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MarTech and AdTech News Headlines Update on June 30, 2022

Ads perform better in context

Remember that time you browsed a tech website and saw an ad for kitchenware…

… and it made you want to buy a cutting board?

You probably don’t because you were focused on a completely different topic!

Customers feel that, too: According to the latest study by Ad Science, contextually relevant ads can boost purchase intent by 14% compared to non-contextual ads.

Here’s what else the research found:

  • Contextual ads are easier to memorize and may increase brand recognition by 4x.
  • It only takes users four seconds to notice contextual ads. For random ads, the average is 10 seconds. That’s a big difference.

Why we care: Not only may contextual advertising be more profitable… it may become essential in our increasingly privacy-first advertising world.

Besides, when companies like T-Mobile are willing to sell their customers’ data, users are less willing to opt-in, which makes behavioral advertising less effective.

By the way… Want to know a great channel for contextual advertising? Newsletters.

Just saying.

Facebook is dumping Premieres and updating its privacy policy

Meta wants to come clean.

… about privacy and pre-recorded Live videos, at least.

  • Bye, Premieres. It seems the feature could be going away August 22. While you’ll no longer be able to schedule pre-recorded videos as Live moments, you can still schedule them as posts.
  • Not selling data. Facebook is updating their privacy policy and terms of service July 26. According to their privacy announcement, Meta assures users they “do not and will not sell your information.”

Why we care: Facebook’s privacy update seems to point to their efforts to become a privacy-conscious, first-party platform.

Does this mean the Facebook Ads algorithm will change again? Guess we’ll see…

How to turn complex topics into easy-to-digest content

Ever had someone talk to you about a complex topic… and felt like they were speaking Klingon?

It’s frustrating!

So if you’re creating content about a complex topic for customers, don’t be that person.

Sarah L. Parker offers a few ideas for turning complex topics into content that your audience will understand.

Let’s take a look…

Understand your audience’s knowledge level: If you’re writing about a highly technical subject to a lay audience, then you need to keep it simple.

But if you’re writing for an audience of specialists, they will think that you don’t own the subject if you are too basic.

Match your language with the knowledge level of your audience.

Understand the topic: This is a basic concept, but often overlooked. If you don’t know the topic you’re creating content about, it will be hard to educate your audience about it.

There are two techniques you can follow here:

  • Explain your topic to a rubber duck. It sounds stupid, but it will force your brain to “dumb it down,” to make the language understandable to everybody. And this will reveal flaws in your own understanding of the topic.
  • Visualize your topic with a concept map. Arrows and diagrams will help you better visualize the topic, its steps or processes, and more.

Learn the topic straight from the source, then turn it into a story: The best way to learn about a complex topic is to consult with subject matter experts. You can ask them questions and get clear explanations.

Once you’re done, it’s time to turn their knowledge into a story your audience understands.

Use testimonials, case studies, and customers’ hero journey stories to create compelling content.

And there you are. Simple, right?

Don’t make this mistake with Google Reviews

This is for all of you who run a local business or do marketing for local businesses.

In case you didn’t know already…

Google’s review filter is getting stricter.

So it’s easier than ever to do the wrong thing and get your Google Reviews hidden.

A good example of this? Writing reviews from the same IP address.

We know… it’s hard to see why Google doesn’t like this. After all, it’s not like you’re not writing fake reviews from your basement, you know?

Well, kinda.

For many businesses, your best shot at getting a customer review is asking them on the spot.

But if all of those customers are sending reviews from the same building and WiFi network—like from a hotel lobby, for example—Google may flag these reviews and hide them.

So keep chasing those sweet, sweet five-star reviews… just don’t ask customers to do it from your store or lobby.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

GOOGLE: A double-edged sword? Google is now showing customers the pros and cons in search result snippets. Sounds like ranking and click-throughs may have gotten a little harder…

SEARCH: Will retail search beat paid advertising in the long run? Amazon Ads already caught up with Google and Meta advertising… Other online marketplaces could be next.

BUSINESS: Rising prices won’t stop people from celebrating the 4th of July… but it may prevent them from spending big. The most eager spenders? Younger generations. Time to oil up the good old TikTok ad machine.

TWITTER: How do you know what makes a carousel ad successful? Twitter recently published a guide that may come in handy. Like we’ve said before, if you want good ad tips, it can help to listen to platforms…

Data Storytelling

Dry statistics and engaging storytelling may not feel like the obvious partners, but used correctly they can create a weapon of mass persuasion. The right data turbocharges content marketing. It increases the emotive impact and persuasiveness. Discover how brands can use data to give consumers insights about themselves, ultimately positioning the product or message closer to the audience.

Too Much Data in Culture?

Tracking your viewing habits is becoming as popular as actually watching a movie. Does the gamification of culture take away from the culture itself, creating a sense of data competition? Spotify Wrapped and GoodReads give users the ability to generate and publicly share data about themselves. Are people engrossed in the content or ticking off the watched box?

The Dark Side of Influencing

There’s been a lot of analysis on the effect of influencers on marketing but not much around the effect of being an influencer on content creators. It’s something worth considering since more children these days would rather be a YouTuber than an astronaut. Not all influencers are created equal. Sex, race and disability drive pay ineqaulity across the sector. There’s also mental health issues associated with feeding the algorithm. If you’re not visible, you can’t influence. How much of the personal must an influencer share and how often? If the pressure is to always be on, is there any influencing downtime?

Faking Engagement Figures

This constant need for visibility means some influencers are involved in black hat activities to falsely inflate their engagement and follower figures. Actually, it’s a bit more than some — in 2020 just over 55% of influencers were inflating their figures fraudulently. For mega-influencers (those with more than one million followers), the incidence of fraud was 66%. When your livelihood is dependent on an unpredictable algorithm, you’ll probably cut corners.

Share of Instagram influencers involved in fraud worldwide in 2019 and 2020, by number of followers

Interesting Marketing Video and Report

The comment when one of the world’s most recognisable logos was created 50 years ago? “Well, I don’t love it.”

Ever wondered what happens to the queue ticket after you’ve been served? It’s a lonely journey.

How do you best describe cardiomyopathy? Through colourful dreamy animation.

New integrations to Maps just dropped

The Google Maps Platform is living up to its name these days.

Google just released several new updates to allow businesses to integrate more closely with Maps and make it easier to use.

Fewer clicks to book: Google’s new APIs let you embed the “Reserve with Google” option on your website and your own maps.

… which means customers can make reservations directly on the store locator.

And that’s just the start… Google is also bringing your store locator directly to your website. Here’s what that looks like:

  • Embedded store locator feature lets you show users every business location. All you have to do is copy and paste a line of code.
  • Details, details: It also helps you integrate and display Google Business Profile details like contact info, hours, photos and more with the embedded store locator by using Google’s Locator Plus feature.
  • Analyzing… Google’s store locator analytics dashboard shows insights into how website visitors interact with the embedded store locator.

Why we care: On one hand, these updates could make businesses more dependent on Google’s features and give more customer and business data to the search giant.

But… by deepening website integrations with Maps platform, Google can also save small and medium business owners lots of time while streamlining their business operations.

Oddly enough, making life easier for small businesses seems to be big tech’s latest trend, because…

Amazon and Meta want to help businesses make more sales

Both released new features for increasing conversions:

Meta expanded free chat support: From now on, they’re not Facebook Marketing Experts… they’re the Meta Pro Team.

Meta says their rebranded service will “make it easy and accessible” for businesses to get personalized help on demand.

We’re kinda hoping the Meta Pro Team wears matching uniforms.

… and Amazon released analytics for physical stores: The new Store Analytics feature combines parameters like location, shopper interaction, and purchase data to create “aggregated and anonymized insights” into customer behavior.

These insights should help you understand how customers discover, consider, and purchase in-store products.

They could also help you improve physical store experience.

Why we care: With growing economic uncertainty and budget cuts, it’s good to see big tech companies offering tools to small businesses.

Plus, Amazon’s effort to provide physical retail data seems like an interesting step into synchronized shopping analytics, both online and off.

It will be interesting to see how it goes…

How to turn lost customers into big profits with direct mail

Leonardo Plebani made $53,900 in sales from lost customers by… sending them direct mail.

Yes, you read that right.

Leonardo talked about it in the Facebook Ads Experts Academy Facebook Group.

And his case study is worth looking at.

So let’s go…

Usually when customers stop purchasing and unsubscribe, it means they’re gone.

And if they purchased more than 180 days ago, you can’t re-target them with Facebook Ads.

But you still have their physical address, right?

Leonardo did. So he split lapsed customers into two segments and sent each segment 4″x6″ postcards. Here’s what happened:

Segment 1: “Unsubscribed Non-Engaged Customers 30 days,” Orders = 1

  • Pieces sent: 3,513
  • Revenue: $25.8k
  • ROI: 1,246.6%

Segment 2: “Unsubscribed Non-Engaged Customers 30 days,” Orders > 1

  • Pieces sent: 867
  • Revenue: $28.1k
  • ROI: 5,485.0%

Those are juicy numbers… Not only that, Leonardo got customers back in his email marketing system.

There’s one more essential step: You must create an offer they can’t refuse. Going back with the same old promos won’t move the needle.

When creating your offer, keep these points in mind:

  • The more time has passed since the last purchase, the more aggressive the offer needs to be.
  • If they purchased from you more than once, the offer should be less aggressive.

There you go: Old school tactics for bringing customers back online… literally!

How to hire world-class freelancers

Sometimes you hire freelancers because you need a job done quickly for a couple of dollars.

But sometimes you want a freelancer with world-class talent to create amazing work that makes you look good.

The problem is… world-class talent is difficult to find.

They won’t show up randomly in your inbox with a cold email, and you usually won’t find them on platforms like Upwork or Fiverr.

Here’s how you can find world-class freelance talent:

  • Reach out to other marketers and brand owners. If you’re hiring a writer, for example, email the marketing directors at the brands you love. Ask them who wrote their copy. Many times, they’ll be happy to make you a referral.
  • Send cold emails to the talent themselves. Do some hunting on Twitter, LinkedIn, and via referrals to identify people you’d love to work with. Then, send them a cold email. Sometimes you have to approach the best talent, not the other way around.
  • Search through Twitter recommendation threads. There are countless examples of people on Twitter asking “hiring an X—any recommendations”? These tweets often receive hundreds of replies. Look for recommendations by people you respect, people who run brands that do great work.

One last tip: Even if your dream freelancer is working full-time somewhere else, you can often convince them to do some contracting on the side for you.

If you want the best in the world, you’ll have to do some searching. We hope the tips above make it a little easier!

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

SEO: An interesting free SEO tool just launched. This one leverages Google’s Suggested Query API to make an expansive list of search terms you can use for your content. Let us know what you think of it.

BUSINESS: The US is the latest country to pump the brakes on spending. In the last few months, high-priced items like cars saw the biggest decline, as did recreational items. Here’s hoping the curve trends upwards with the coming holidays…

FACEBOOK: Hey, this looks familiar… Facebook is redesigning their groups sidebar, adding community chats, voice rooms, and more. Seems like Meta is taking a page out of Discord’s book…

GOOGLE: You know those Google product grid snippets, how they kinda look like ads? Well, it turns out not all of them are ads… Some are actually organic displays for your products. Sweet!

Twitter just went from 280 characters to 2500 words in 16 years. It’s called Notes.

This is a clever way to keep users inside the Twitter ecosystem instead of losing them to other longer-form platforms like Medium — or the rest of the WWW. Why link out when you can keep them in? It’s an interesting use case, and I can see the birth of the Twitter writer as a whole new job title, but I wonder if it’s actually solving a real user need. Will it really replace threads? Will it finally kill Medium? Will we stop using Twitter as the headline for the rest of the web? (I’m predicting the rise of Recipe Twitter.) Or is this just the profitability warm-up for the company in advance of the major sale that has been in the offing for ages? “So whether giving people 2,500 characters to work with will ultimately make a difference in the quality of the digital public sphere – well, I think it’s unlikely. Is it a chance to grab headlines in advance of some major changes at the company? Absolutely.”

But Twitter has more up its high-valuation sleeve: shopping.

It’s called Product Drops, and it does what it says on the packaging — you get to check out new product launches right in the app. “[With] Product Drops, we’re making it easier to go from conversation to product discovery to purchase.” There’s even a ‘Remind Me’ button so you can enable notifications when that PS5 game finally hits.

You know what’s exciting? Speech-to-text. You know what’s AMAZING? Inclusive speech-to-text that uses AI to translate “regardless of the accent or how the person speaks”.

A startup called Speechmatics just raised $62 million to build this thing, and it sounds amazing. Their edge? They score higher against competition like Amazon, Microsoft, and Google, who sell speech recognition tech. “Our goal is to understand any and every voice, in multiple languages.”

No illustrator in your newsroom?

Is your freelancer too busy? Are you looking for stock illustrations to use for your next story? I’ve got you. This is a great thread with all the illustration resources out there, from Craftwork and Open Peeps to Doodle Ipsum and Mixkit. Also, here’s a quick reminder: hire an illustrator and pay them well.

NowThis has a starring role in the new Jurassic Park movie.

The social news video org actually kicks off the movie, and it’s hilarious but so subtly realistic. Way better than your average movie news channel mockup.

The University of Oxford has 404 error pages that feature other historical things that weren’t found.

Then they use those to market courses to people who lost their way on their website. (“Page not found like the last digit of π. To find out about wonderful, irrational π enrol here: Mathematics (undergraduate course); DPhil in Mathematics (graduate course)”. Pretty cool. What’s your 404 page like?

Reels APIs are finally coming to Instagram

Ever noticed that third-party social media tools and analytics have a Reels-shaped hole?

You’re not the only one.

Meta noticed it too… and they’re finally starting to roll out the Reels API.

… to the lucky few: Starting today, up to 25% of Instagram developers will be able to integrate Reels with content publishing, hashtag search, mentions, and more.

Meta plans to roll out the Reels API to all developers by July 6.

And the good news is, if your app has already been verified, you won’t need to put it through another App Review.

Why we care: These APIs will give marketers the ability to publish Reels to Instagram Business accounts, see Reels social interaction metrics, and lots more.

Good news if you’ve been waiting to use and analyze this type of content for your brand!

Do you know what your customers are doing?

When you’re looking for advertising tips, sometimes it pays to listen to the platform itself.

Take Microsoft’s list of 2022 consumer trends driving ad engagement, for example.

It includes some interesting insights into shopper behavior:

  • Gaming the system. Customers are savvy when it comes to deals. They’re abandoning shopping carts to trigger discount codes, signing up for offers using multiple emails, and more.
  • A picture’s worth a thousand clicks. When small and medium-sized businesses added images to Microsoft Advertising campaigns, they saw a 21% increase in impressions, click-through, and revenue.
  • Going to work to… shop? Yep, customers are shopping at work. And the trend is expected to grow.

Tools for the job: Naturally, Microsoft believes their tools are perfect for helping marketers connect with customers.

If you’re using Microsoft Advertising, now’s a good time to brush up on their features.

Why we care: Pay attention when the ad platforms you use collect and report on first-party user behavior.

This information can be a goldmine for getting the most out of your tools and reaching more customers effectively.

A surprising source for the best marketing ideas

Great marketing ideas don’t come out of Zoom calls and team meetings.

They come from moments of “scrappiness” when your mind is rushing, when you’re exploring different pieces of information and creating connections.

And there are at least 16 ways you can capitalize on that creative chaos.

Amanda Natividad breaks them down in a useful Twitter thread.

Let’s boogie…

1) Make a Twitter List for inspiration and include:

  • 20 people you admire in your niche.
  • 10 people in your target audience.
  • 5 people you can see yourself mentoring.

This will make your Twitter feed inspirational and actionable, and help ideas to flow naturally.

2) Create a “Customer Advisory Board.” Befriend customers you get along with and ask them what challenges they’re facing. Brainstorm solutions and ideas together.

3) Read support tickets and customers’ replies to your emails and social media accounts. This can be a great source of inspiration for improving your product and the perception people have of your brand.

You can also ask your sales team for the most common objections and questions they get.

4) Think out loud. Record yourself discussing a problem, or a solution. Rant about everything. Then transcript the audio.

Here are some prompts that Amanda suggests to help you get into the flow quickly:

  • Most people get this wrong…
  • Right now, this is bugging me…
  • I wish more people knew about…

These are just four of the 16. Read Amanda’s full thread to see more ways for generating ideas from that useful mental chaos.

What to do when major world events occur

Two things generally hold true in marketing:

  1. People prefer to buy from brands that share their values.
  2. When brands try to share their political and moral values, customers often perceive it as tone-deaf.

Sadly, it’s too easy for brands to make tone-deaf comments during major world events.

And seeing as there are major world events happening all the time, we arrive at the question:

How should marketers approach messaging when major world events occur?

The short answer is… it depends on your business.

But here are a few rules of thumb:

  • Try to avoid speaking out if you have nothing helpful to add. When the war in Ukraine began earlier this year, The Crew wrote a short statement explaining why we wouldn’t cover the war. Because we’re a marketing newsletter, it seems unhelpful to comment on something outside of our expertise.
  • If you do speak out, keep it short. Unless your brand has an identity based on a particular issue, most people won’t be sitting at the edge of their seats to hear what your brand has to say about the latest world event. So if you speak out, keep it brief.
  • Never make it about your brand. We’ve seen this many, many times. When major world events happen, avoid putting the spotlight on your brand, and focus instead on offering value in a way that’s relevant to your identity and purpose.

Finally, a friendly reminder: When a war breaks out or a tragedy occurs, most people aren’t waiting with anticipation to hear what their favorite e-commerce brand has to say.

In many cases, no response is the best response.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

ADVERTISING: Care for a glimpse of what’s working? The Standard Media Index reports that digital advertising has grown 13% since 2021, while out-of-home ads rose by 42%. TV ads have dipped by 10%. Magazine ads, meanwhile, had a 22% decrease. Ouch.

GOOGLE: Running Google Ads for financial products and services? Take note… There’s a new verification policy required if you’re targeting Australia, Singapore, and Taiwan.

METAVERSE: Yes, the recent crypto crash and drop in NFT prices hurt, but it hasn’t broken marketers’ spirits. Several brands believe there’s plenty of promise in NFTs and the metaverse… including Gucci and Samsung.

TWITTER: Journalist mentions are PR and SEO heaven. So how do you get them? According to the Pew Research Center, more than nine out of every ten journalists use Twitter to do their jobs. Seems like a good day to make some Twitter Lists…

Pinterest Brings in New Ad Format

Pinterest announced last week that you can now turn “Idea Pins” into ads as a way to provide brands with more tools for better engagement. This new format will allow you to produce video and image content to create ads designed to drive audience traffic with an additional paid partnerships feature. This is good news! Idea ads can be the best immersive marketing tool if you’re in e-commerce and advertise on Pinterest.

1.5 Billion People Watch YouTube Shorts Every Month

This further proves short videos are the best way to capture your audience. What’s the cause? Short attention spans? All that matters is that this is proven as a real source of true engagement and an attractive marketing channel. This is good time to try short-form video content if you haven’t already for your ads. Not sure how to start? Check out Tik Tok for inspiration.

UK Overthrows the GDPR Model

If your target audience is in the UK, you might want to listen up. The government announced last week their new Data Reform Bill which will reduce burdens on businesses and protect consumers from spam. What does this all mean? Well, you may not need to worry about satisfying GDPR requirements in the UK anymore. Something to keep an eye on is what the EU could do if they want to retaliate against these new laws. This would either further complicate marketing and data sharing or lead to partnerships with other countries. This really could go either way so make sure to stay on top of this as, unfortunately for marketers, the struggle over how to start these consumer privacy practices is definitely far from over.

Twitter + Snap = TikTok

Yes, that’s a real equation.

TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2021… and it’s poised to triple revenue by the end of this year.

Whoa, that’s big: Estimated revenues would make TikTok bigger than Twitter and Snap combined.

And while TikTok has significantly fewer active users than Meta, it’s ahead of the game when it comes to growth and time spent on the platform.

… And TikTok has big plans for advertising: At Cannes, company executives revealed plans for attracting millions of advertisers.

They’re keen to tackle Apple’s privacy regulations with solutions like contextual targeting.

Also, last week TikTok launched a new attribution manager that helps you track ad performance over periods of time from 1 to 28 days, depending on how many touch points it takes for your product to convert.

Why we care: TikTok appeals to a variety of demographics, and it’s catching up to Meta in size.

With plans to make advertising as efficient as possible, TikTok could become a default paid advertising channel in the future.

Speaking of ad channels…

The newest ad channel? Cars

You don’t have to drive Formula One race cars to get sponsors…

US rideshare drivers are trying to mitigate rising gas prices by wrapping their cars in ads.

Like driving a billboard: Turns out drivers can make as much as $600 a month just by… well, driving around.

And car advertising companies like Wrapify and Carvertise have seen dramatic user growth since the start of the year, with more and more people choosing to plaster their cars with ads.

Why we care: Car advertising could be a viable and affordable solution for marketers, especially for local business ads and time-sensitive ads.

Might be worth taking this advertising channel for a test drive…

Is your SMS marketing program compliant?

Hey, SMS is an excellent marketing channel, and you’re wise to use it.

Buuuut… as with every channel, there are rules.

In this blog post, Belén Loaiza Ruiz lists some guidelines for making sure your SMS marketing program checks all the legal boxes.

Let’s look at the main ones…

Location-based regulations. Depending on where subscribers are from, you’ll have different regulations to follow:

  • US: Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and the CTIA’s guidelines (Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association).
  • Canada: The Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL).
  • Europe: General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).
  • United Kingdom: The UK GDPR and the Public and Electronic Communications Regulations 2003 (“PECR”).
  • Australia: The Spam Act 2003 and the Spam Regulations 2021.

Look up the relevant regulations based on where your subscribers live.

List growth compliance. Like email subscribers, you need users’ permission if you want to send them SMS texts. When they subscribe, inform them of the following:

  • Messages will have marketing/promotional content.
  • Messages may be sent via an autodialer.
  • Message frequency (For example: “Msg frequency varies”).
  • Opt-out instructions (e.g., Reply STOP to unsubscribe).
  • Help instructions (e.g., text HELP for help).

Here’s an example of a compliant SMS subscription form.

Here’s an example of a compliant SMS subscription form.

Message timing. Send SMS and MMS campaigns between 9 am and 9 pm in the recipient’s time zone. The interval before 9 am and after 9pm is known as “quiet hours,” and messages sent during “quiet hours” are considered intrusive, even prohibited by some regulations..

Content. Include your brand name so people recognize who the message is from, and always include an opt-out option.

There you go. If you want to make sure you’re covering all your bases, you’ll find more in Belén’s post.

Are you yawning? We know, we know… Dealing with laws and regulations is boring. But it’s better than getting fined!

A simple psychological lever for selling things

Your product is great.

But how do you get your customers to feel the same way?

Educate them by comparison.

Most customers won’t know exactly why your product is good until you show them.

Here are a few ways to do that:

  • Work it into the header copy on your home and product pages. Don’t talk only about your product. Talk about how much more complicated life is without your product. Be specific—don’t make customers guess.
  • Create comparison tables. Many brands use competitor comparison tables. But you can also try creating tables in which one side shows life before your product, and the other side shows life after your product. This is less common, but it works.
  • Tell customers about problems they didn’t know they had. If you sell a product that solves a complicated problem, customers might not fully understand why they need your product in the first place. So tell them! Make a pitch for why the way they’re doing things today is problematic.

Highlighting contrast sells. So start educating those would-be customers!

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

INSTAGRAM: The 4th of July is a time for fireworks, celebration, and… brands posting generic Instagram captions. Don’t want to be that brand? Good. This little guide can help you do something more original and valuable this year.

SOCIAL MEDIA: Remember BeReal? The platform encourages users to be more authentic—and it has been downloaded over 1,250,000 times. Definitely a channel to keep an eye on…

GOOGLE: Talk about dynamic. Google appears to be testing a dynamic keyword insertion in Shopping ads. For example, if you search for a material like “gold necklace,” Google will automatically place “gold” in front of existing product titles. Nice.

YOUTUBE: How does the platform’s algorithm work? MrBeast breaks it down along with YouTube’s head of discovery. The main takeaway—make videos that people want to watch. Harder than it sounds.

This summer’s forecast: Cheap CPMs, huge reach, and tiny ad spend

… At least, that’s what we hope you’ll get from Twitter’s latest forecast tool, Campaign Planner.

What’s Campaign Planner? A forecasting feature that will help you gauge your campaign outcome before launching it.

What you’ll know in advance:

  • Reach, impressions, average frequency, and cost per mille (CPM) related to the specific audience, campaign duration, frequency setting, and placement you selected.
  • The budget for auction-based campaigns.

It will be available to advertisers in the US, the UK, and Japan. Twitter claims it will help you make more informed marketing decisions.

… And that’s not all: The company also rolled out Branded Likes to all advertisers in the US, the UK, and Japan.

In case you didn’t know already, Branded Likes let advertisers create custom like animations for their tweets. The goal is to incentivize users to engage more with your ads.

Not a bad forecast, huh?

Here’s why your conversion rates might be slowing down

Two things that are hard on the stomach: Getting sick in a foreign country, and watching your conversions drop.

Thankfully, the cause for dropping conversion rates might be simpler—and easier to fix—than you think…

What’s going on: A study found out that in the UK, the number of purchases conducted through Buy now, pay later (BPNL) almost doubled after February 2022.

The reason: The rising cost of living.

Inflation is prompting consumers to look for stores with BNPL enabled. If that’s not you… You know what to do.

… And it’s not just the UK: In the US, four in five consumers use BNPL for almost every type of purchase, from clothing to cleaning supplies.

Good news for merchants, bad news for consumers: In the UK, one third of BNPL shoppers declared that they are not able to manage payments.

BNPL is causing debt problems, so the UK introduced new regulations to protect consumers from getting into financial issues.

Why we care: Up until now BNPL was an optional add-on to your e-commerce store.

But it’s clearly gaining traction, which means it’s slowly becoming a “must” for some brands.

How to calculate the size of your market and your potential revenue

Some kinds of information are worth their weight in gold bricks.

… Like knowing the size of your market when you’re launching a new product or company, which helps you estimate potential revenue.

Molly Winik explains how to calculate the size of your market in this Similarweb blog post.

There are three different metrics you can use. Let’s pretend we’re selling toothbrushes to make understanding the metrics easier:

Total addressable market (TAM): The TAM represents the entire potential value of the market.

There are two ways to determine this:

  • Add up figures for toothbrush sales per grocery chain, pharmacy, and retailer.
  • Estimate how many toothbrushes per year the average person buys. Multiply it by the number of people in your market, say the US. And then multiply it by the average toothbrush price.

Serviceable addressable market (SAM): This refers to a specific audience segment that your product targets.

Sticking with our toothbrush analogy, that would be the total amount of electric toothbrushes for kids sold online.

Serviceable obtainable market (SOM): This is the proportion of your SAM that you can likely obtain with your offer.

To calculate this, divide last year’s revenue by last year’s SAM. That’s your market share. Then, multiply your market share by the dollar value of this year’s SAM.

… And that’s your SOM.

As you can tell, determining your TAM, SAM and SOM is simple math. The hard part is getting the data.

There are a few different ways to do this:

  • Research existing reports, studies, and whitepapers online to estimate the size of your market.
  • Refer to financial reports. Public companies have to share their financial reports with the public.
  • Look into market research tools and companies.
  • Conduct interviews. Talk to people in your industry to gather information about your market size.

Now put it all together: Compare the data you collected to get a better estimation of your TAM, SAM and SOM.

Our favorite examples of trigger events

Today, we want to provide you with a healthy list of examples to help you get started.

It’s impossible to list them all, but this should give you plenty of ideas and inspiration:

  • Breaking up with your partner → Buy a gym membership.
  • Lose your job → Buy a “make money online” course.
  • Exit a startup → Buy real estate.
  • Start a business → Subscribe to a mentorship.
  • Break or lose something → Buy it again.
  • Lose a client → Buy a course to get more clients.
  • Start freelancing → Buy freelance invoicing software.
  • Move to a new house → Buy new furniture.
  • Move to a new country → Learn the language.
  • Get a higher-paying job → Buy fancy things like a new car, computer, etc.

When you say them out loud, they all sound like common-sense.

The fascinating thing is that most purchase trigger events can be grouped into a few categories:

  • Financial status: More money, less money.
  • Career: Becoming a founder, for example.
  • Location: Moving to a new apartment, house, city, or country.
  • Personal life: Loss of a loved one, ending a relationship, starting a new relationship.

The Crew’s Insight: For your own product, try to identify which category and which types of trigger events your customers are experiencing before they make a purchase.

This can help you determine how to position and sell your products effectively.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

ADVERTISING: Netflix is considering opening up ad service on their streaming platform to Google or Comcast. Imagine getting to show your ads during a Stranger Things episode… Eek. Hi mom!

REGULATION: Italy is another country on a long, long list of countries accusing Google Analytics of violating EU privacy regulations. Not a quiet time for GA.

ADVERTISING: The advertising budget poured on video ads increased by 30% since the last quarter. And guess who’s leading the growth? That’s right… YouTube.

E-COMMERCE: Amazon sellers say customers aren’t converting as frequently as they used to. They’re preparing for an eventual recession by closely monitoring conversion data and cutting logistical costs. Have you observed this phenomenon too?

TIKTOK: Until now, news publications were having trouble gaining popularity on the app. But the tune is changing, and some news outlets’ accounts are seeing their views explode on TikTok.

META: Facebook Pay, the company’s own payment method, has been rebranded to Meta Pay. Other than the name change, everything else should be the same… at least for now.

Spotify now integrates with everyone… almost

Ever feel like you’re frantically busy…

… only to learn your old college friend is pursuing two masters degrees, has four kids, and trains Seeing Eye dogs?

Shopify’s kinda like that: The company announced 100+ features yesterday, including…

  • Twitter Shopping. Now the Twitter sales channel integrates with Shopify, putting your products right in users’ feeds and making it easy for them to purchase, among other features.
  • Tap to Pay on iPhone lets Shopify merchants collect offline payment from customers with a tap of the iPhone.
  • Local inventory sync on Google enables merchants to alert nearby customers about product availability.

… But wait, there’s more: Shopify is also launching new tools like pre-orders and expanded selling plans, B2B selling capabilities, badges for stores that guarantee two-day delivery, and more.

There’s lots more than we have space for here, so we’d suggest reading the full announcement to get all the deets.

Facebook and TikTok want to make friends with the US and the EU

Usually, big tech and governments are squared up like gunslingers on a dusty street.

But based on two recent updates, it appears they’re shaking hands instead of holsters…

Meta’s playing fair with US home buyers: Meta announced a settlement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development that will change the way they deliver housing ads in the US.

In Meta’s own words, they developed a novel use of machine learning technology to:

“… ensure the age, gender and estimated race or ethnicity of a housing ad’s overall audience matches the age, gender, and estimated race or ethnicity mix of the population eligible to see that ad.“

In other words, the goal is to avoid discrimination in housing ads.

… And TikTok’s doing a dance routine with the EU: TikTok has committed to “align its practices with the EU rules on advertising and consumer protection.”

What does this mean for TikTok in practice? Well, quite a few things, but here are the main points:

  • Users will be able to report ads and offers that could trick children into purchasing goods or services.
  • Branded content that promotes alcohol, “get-rich-quick” schemes, and cigarettes is prohibited.
  • If an account has more than 10,000 followers, TikTok will review their videos.
  • Paid ads will be identified with a new label.

That’s only part of the list. You can read the whole thing in the announcement.

3 lessons from bootstrapping a SaaS company to 8 figures

In 2012, Patrick Campbell cashed out his 401(k) to start ProfitWell, a software company that helps subscription businesses reduce cancellations and optimize pricing.

A few weeks ago, he sold it for over $200M.

He recently got on Reddit for an “ask me anything” (AMA) session.

He shared several incredible lessons from his experience. Here are our favorites:

Acquire your first customers. Patrick used a mix of content marketing and cold outreach. He:

  • Wrote an ebook.
  • Created blog posts to get traffic to get ebook downloads.
  • Reached out to people that downloaded the ebook and offered a free pricing audit.
  • Once the prospect realized they could do better, and how, he went for the sale.

Build an audience. ProfitWell created a media strategy. They created a newsletter, a blog, and a strong presence on social media.

And they treated each channel differently.

When you have an audience, scaling your revenue is easy if your product is good.

Use a tangential freemium model. Creating a free product that is better than your competitors’ paid offers will attract your ideal buyers.

Then you monetize those free users by selling them different products.

Moreover, earning free subscribers helped ProfitWell in different ways:

  • Their product became excellent because the data from the free product trained their algorithms for the paid products.
  • They were forced to create an extremely efficient infrastructure to keep costs low. This effort compounded over time.
  • It made their products easier to learn. Since they had a large base to talk to, they were able to improve customer experiences at a quicker rate than their competitors.

That’s some solid marketing and business wisdom, especially if you’re in the SaaS game. If you want more lessons, read the whole AMA post.

Want to bump your e-commerce sales?

Guess what’s trending right now in some e-commerce circles? Listicles.

If you’ve spent more than five minutes on the internet, you know them well: those “top 5” articles telling you to buy things you never knew you needed.

As it turns out, these listicle-type articles can be great for driving sales… But only if they’re done well.

Here’s our best advice for creating listicles that sell:

  • Don’t lead with the offer. The reason listicle articles work is that they feel organic. If it’s obvious from your title or introduction that the article is a straight-up promotion, people will be less inclined to trust what you’re saying. Write your listicles so they feel more like objective blog posts than direct-response copy.
  • Try hosting the article on a different site. This is grey territory, but some marketers like to post their listicles on sites that their brand isn’t connected to. It feels more organic than if it’s on your brand’s domain.
  • Twist the knife. Each header in your listicle should dig a thumbnail into a unique pain point. Help readers understand each and every problem they’re facing, then show them how they can solve it.

And if you want more takeaways… There was a great conversation about listicles on Twitter recently.

Happy selling!

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

MICROSOFT: Spend money, make money. Microsoft Advertising just launched automatic Cash back promotions in Edge. When a user buys through your product ads, they get cash from Microsoft. Interesting…

MARKETING: Google wants to help marketers make their advertising more inclusive. They’re expanding their All In marketing toolkit with new features, including tools for reaching people with disabilities. Sounds fair.

E-COMMERCE: Shipping a container from China to the US is four times more expensive than it was in June 2020… But it’s also 50% less expensive than last year. Is the supply chain crisis finally cooling off?

TWITTER: Videos are getting shorter… And tweets are getting longer. Twitter is launching Twitter Notes, a feature that allows users to publish long articles directly on the platform. We wonder how long articles will compare to threads…

SOCIAL MEDIA: Turns out Reels and TikTok audiences have different tastes. TikTok users like puppies and other animals videos. Meanwhile, tutorials, comedy, and augmented reality filters are gaining more traction on Instagram Reels. Good to know!

SEO: Brave Search, a new search engine, passed 2.5 billion queries in the last 365 days. Compare that to Google, which took more than a year to reach that number. Granted, they did it when the internet and smartphones weren’t as popular, but still…

Writing a great blog

It might feel like the grandfather of content marketing, but blogs still have a place in any large-scale content strategy. While businesses know they should blog, many simply aren’t sure how to get started. Whether you hire a content agency or do it in-house the first step is to always write about what you know. Once you figure that bit out, the rest is easy.

Brand safety and podcast advertising

Spotify has partnered with Integral Ad Science (IAS) “to create the first third-party podcast brand safety and suitability reporting tool”. It uses automated transcription technology on podcast episodes to help advertisers avoid specific topics they don’t want their brand associated with. Basically, it means advertisers won’t need to issue a statement when Joe Rogan says something outrageous.

A rise in podcast advertising

The brand safety tool comes along just in time for the increased interest in podcast advertising. While video advertising is streaks ahead when it comes to popular digital ad formats, podcasting is enjoying a modest rise. In 2021, 31% of marketers planned to increase their podcast advertising spend, a figure that’s jumped to 45% this year.

Net sare of marketers increasing their advertising budget on selected digital advertising formats worldwide in 2021 and 2022

Death of Instagram photography

Every time a social platform makes a change, it causes widespread complaints. Instagram is trialling a “visual refresh” with a move from traditional square posts to vertical video content. Those who have tried the new look have described it as “the death of photography on the platform”. It appears to be the latest move by the platform to keep up with TikTok. Expect more complaints when the official update is released.

Interesting Marketing Video and Report

No CGI was used in this commercial. It really wasn’t.

There was no CGI in this ad either, and they really went all out to create it.

How-to guide on making a Netflix doco on anything.

Is influencer marketing about to get even easier?

If you build it, creators will come… right? That’s what Mark Zuckerberg seems to think.

Because Meta is bringing more options to marketers and the creators they work with…

What’s going on: Mark Zuckerberg announced Meta is going to make it easier for “creators to make money.”

By that he means:

  • New free tools that can help creators make money. New tools include subscriber-only Facebook Groups for paying subscribers, monetized Reels and livestreams, and more.
  • More creators are getting access to existing tools like Reels and Facebook Stars.
  • Creator marketplace. Instagram is testing a space where creators can get discovered by brands and get paid for their content. Sounds a bit like TikTok’s Creator Marketplace, doesn’t it?
  • NFTs. Yep, you read that right. Instagram is expanding its NFT test to more creators around the world.

That’s nice: On top of that, Facebook plans to keep revenue sharing in its pockets until 2024, so creators will get more money.

Maybe we’ll see first-party data from Meta on how a profile performs in terms of engagement, reach, and so on.

Why we care: User-generated content (UGC) and influencer campaigns are some of the most effective campaigns out there right now.

Meta’s updates give you more options for finding creators who can help your brand reach customers, which is helpful.

And speaking of helpful updates…

You can stream marketing stats with Amazon’s new API

As we’ve mentioned before, Amazon is becoming a bigger player in the advertising space.

So it’s natural they would bring some very welcome upgrades to their toolset.

What’s new: The latest upgrade is Amazon Marketing Stream, which launched in beta yesterday.

What does it do? It’s a real-time, constant stream sent through Amazon Ads API.

What changed? Before this update, API users would have to manually pull data, compare, and crunch the numbers.

Amazon Marketing Stream now makes things way easier where marketers don’t have to manage API throttling, and they don’t have to compare new info with old one.

Who gets to use it? Right now it’s only available in the US, Canada, and Mexico.

So if you are an agency, a tool provider, or a direct advertiser in that region, you can request access.

Takeaways from 25 years of sending newsletters

Ann Handley recently shared the lessons she’s learned from sending newsletters for the past 25 years.

Her insights may help you launch a successful newsletter yourself.

So let’s get to the good stuff…

Waiting for inspiration to write does not work. Because that will turn into an excuse to not publish anything. Brainstorm content ideas and create an editorial plan.

Set up a schedule you can manage, and stick to it.

A newsletter is a relationship-building channel. Not a distribution channel.

The one thing that nobody else can copy from you is the tone of voice of your newsletter. Develop one. And keep improving and reiterating until you don’t find one that you feel is yours.

The Crew’s tip: Create guidelines and processes to make sure you stick to your tone of voice. We are not robots afterall, and some days, we might be tempted to shift away from it.

Guidelines help you stay on track, especially when you have a team of writers.

The “from” name is more important than the subject line. That’s because you create a relationship with your readers over time. Eventually they’ll open your email just because it’s from you.

Your newsletter needs a “master of ceremonies,” or an MC. Well… The Crew slightly disagrees here.

There are tons of examples of successful newsletters sent by companies that don’t use an MC. The Hustle, Morning Brew, The Newsette… the list goes on.

An MC might make growth easier, especially in the early days. In general, people trust other people more than brands. Buuut… it’s not essential.

So there you go: Lessons you can apply to your own newsletter. Good luck!

Microsoft Ads are finally available for almost everyone

In the past, many people outside of the US weren’t able to use the platform for advertising. It just wasn’t available in many countries.

But things have changed… In February, Microsoft announced that its ad platform was coming to 29 more countries. And in May, Microsoft added another 32.

Don’t underestimate Microsoft Ads. Microsoft and its properties now reach more than 1B people worldwide.

Sleep on this channel, and you could be sleeping on customers.

It’s also cheaper than Google Ads. Advertising on Bing is, on average, 30% cheaper than on Google. For some niches, we’ve found it to be nearly 5X cheaper.

The Crew’s insight: Big advertising networks, like Microsoft, are consistently expanding to new countries.

So be an early adopter and enjoy those low costs per click (CPCs).

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

GOOGLE: Do your pages have different product variants? If so, then those pages won’t be eligible to show rich results in Google Search, thanks to Google’s latest update. You’ll need a distinct URL for each variant to support rich results.

TIKTOK: Out of 800,000 small business owners surveyed, 58% of them declared that TikTok helped them grow their revenue. So if you run a small business, better get TikTok’in.

E-COMMERCE: According to a Snapchat report, two-thirds of consumers are less likely to return a product after trying it out with an augmented reality feature. This might be the solution to high return rates we’ve been waiting for…

ADVERTISING: Ryan Roslansky, LinkedIn CEO, says creative skills suffered a 17% decline in the advertising industry. Is that why costs per mille (CPMs) are up? Not enough creativity in our ads?

WORDPRESS: Everyone’s favorite content management system (CMS) is encouraging theme authors to switch to locally-hosted theme fonts. Why? Because solutions like Google-hosted fonts expose visitors’ IP addresses, and that violates the GDPR. Oops.

GOOGLE: Bugs, flagged. Google said they’re aware of the bug affecting the Performance Max Product Listing tab. Here’s hoping they fix it soon.

Livestream shopping apps are gaining popularity

Guess what. It’s not just TikTok.

Livestream shopping is on the rise in the US.

The numbers don’t lie: Sensor Tower just released a new report summarizing the climb in app installs.

Here’s the gist:

  • Installs of the top 10 livestream shopping apps — not including TikTok and YouTube — are up 77% in 2022.
  • Whatnot has the most installs, with NTWRK and QVC coming second and third.
  • Whatnot is growing the fastest. It reached an all-time high of 240K app installs in May.

Why we care: More and more US consumers are using livestream shopping to discover and purchase new products, which means there’s revenue potential for brands willing to use the channel.

Figure out how to leverage this channel before your competitors, and you might just win big.

You will need at least 5 reviews to run Local Service Ads with Google

Well, it just got a little harder to launch Local Service Ads…

Twitter user @lenraleigh shared an email he received from Google that says real estate agent businesses will need at least 5 customer reviews to run a new ad.

That seems sudden: Google’s AdsLiaison jumped into the conversation to clarify that the overall process hasn’t changed, except the reviews requirement went from one to five reviews.

Does it affect you? If you have over five Google My Business reviews, then no. Breathe easy.

But if you have under five reviews, starting June 30, you may not be able to create new Local Service Ads.

If you’re an agency, make sure your clients know about this requirement!

What about costs per click (CPC)? Well, we don’t know how many businesses get “cut off” from the ads, but probably not enough to make a huge impact on your CPC.

Here’s hoping we don’t see a boom in the “fake review” services…

Coming up with content ideas is much easier with this technique

If you struggle to come up with content ideas, Dickie Bush came up with a simple framework that will help.

It’s called the 4A Framework, and the idea is to create content based on one topic using four different angles:

  • Actionable: This is tactical content where readers gain insights they didn’t have before in the form of tips, hacks, curation, resources, and guides.
  • Analytical: Support your core idea with numbers and analysis. The goal is to help readers unlock a new way of thinking using trends, numbers, teardowns, and examples.
  • Aspirational: Motivate readers and help them understand what is possible. You can do this by using stories, biographies, lessons, advice to past-self, personal stories, mistakes, and so on.
  • Anthropological: Help readers understand the current state of things. Explore common fears, failures, struggles, and comparisons.

Dickie offers a real-life example of the 4A Framework. If the topic is money, we have:

  • Actionable: “I Will Teach You To Be Rich.”
  • Analytical: “The Changing World Order.”
  • Aspirational: “Rich Dad, Poor Dad.”
  • Anthropological: “The Psychology of Money.”

But you can take it even further by mixing these angles. Viral content is usually a combination of two or more angles:

  • Actionable + Analytical: “I’ve studied 100+ Landing Pages. Here’s why each one works.”
  • Aspirational + Anthropological: “I used to have a terrible relationship with money. Here’s how I fixed it.”
  • Aspirational + Actionable: “I’ve made millions of dollars investing in Bitcoin and Ethereum. Here’s how you can too.”
  • Analytical + Anthropological: “Studies show Bitcoin adoption is accelerating. But here’s why the case for why Bitcoin has less to do with technology and more with failing governments.”

There you go. Once you know this system, you’ll realize that most of the content out there reflects this framework.

We hope you enjoyed this “actionable” piece!

Trigger events: The reason people buy your products

Storytime.

Last week, we went into a restaurant with his AirPods on. When he left the restaurant, they were missing.

Narrator voice: He did not find the missing AirPods.

So he marched into the nearest electronics store to, begrudgingly, buy some new ones.

This is a trigger event. If you haven’t heard the term, it’s simple: Trigger events are events that trigger people to take action or buy products.

Almost every single purchase is caused, directly or indirectly, by a trigger event.

Understanding trigger events can have a serious impact on the way you talk to your customers.

And leveraging them can boost conversions and sales.

So try this exercise: Get a piece of paper and a pen, or open a new document. Think about your product and ask the question, “What would have to happen in my life for me to purchase this product?”

Think of all the possible trigger events and write them down.

When you’re done, you’ll have a healthy list of common trigger events for your customers. Then, you can order them from most common to least common.

And you can even interview your customers to find out what happened n their life that made them buy your product.

Once you’ve done this, take another look at your ads, your copy, and your sales funnel.

Are you addressing the trigger events and pain points that your customers are feeling?

When you speak to trigger events, your customers will feel like they’re truly being listened to. And when people feel that way… They often buy stuff.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

E-COMMERCE: Selling apparel? Looks like you can start selling digital versions of your clothing to avatar users in the metaverse. Meta just launched an avatar store where users can purchase digital outfits from Prada, Thom Browne, and Balenciaga.

ADVERTISING: Marketing channel alert! Telegram has 700M active monthly users—and they just launched a paid subscription that gives users an ad-free experience. Which means they may “incentivize” free users to buy the paid subscription by playing more ads… Your ads.

MARKETING: The last thing marketers need is controversy. So if you’re in the US, keep in mind that only 18 states recognize Juneteenth as a federal holiday. Depending on where your audience is, you might provoke less-than-happy reactions. Something to keep in mind for next year!

The UK is done with GDPR

Buckle your life jacket, because there are big waves coming across the channel…

The UK has decided the GDPR model of opting into cookies is “highly complex” and holds organizations back from “using data as dynamically as they could.”

So they’re throwing it overboard… In an official release, the government announced their new Data Reform Bill will allegedly reduce burdens on businesses while protecting consumers from spam calls and cookies.

Confused about how the new laws will accomplish all that? Yeah, us too.

… and they’re striking new deals: The UK also believes their new laws will empower them to form data sharing deals with the US, Australia, and other countries.

Why we care: If you target UK audiences, soon you may not need to worry about satisfying GDPR requirements anymore. Of course, whether the coming alternatives are better is hard to say.

On one hand, the EU could retaliate against the UK’s new laws, further complicating advertising and data sharing.

And on the other hand, it could lead to new data sharing partnerships with other countries.

Either way, unfortunately for marketers, the tussle over how to implement consumer privacy practices is far from over.

Walmart and Roku partner to remove purchase friction from shoppable TV ads

You know what really adds friction to a purchase process?

When you have to reach for your remote, laptop, or phone to buy the thing you saw in an ad.

That’s what Walmart and Roku aim to fix: With “shoppable ads,” viewers simply press “OK” with their remote, and wham, they’re in checkout.

Roku Pay pre-populates their details. Another press on “OK” and the Walmart checkout page places the order.

Tap, tap, done!

Talk about direct response… Once viewers set their payment and delivery details, they can purchase directly from ads.

No more awkward typing from the TV remote.

Why we care: TV and streaming ads have great reach, and integrations like this are as frictionless as it gets.

… which means huge revenue potential for brands who leverage TV ads effectively.

And TV advertising is definitely heating up, don’t ignore this channel!

How to elevate your product in the minds of customers

Building a big brand starts by defining how you want people to look at your company. What characteristics do you want them to associate with your brand?

Liam Curley recently shared a Twitter thread listing 9 brand characteristics you can use to build a successful brand.

You don’t have to use them all. Just pick the ones that suit your business and industry the best.

Let’s dive in…

Extraordinary: The market thinks that your product has better quality than the alternatives. Bose, for instance, is appreciated for the high-quality sound of their devices.

A high-quality product is the foundation of a successful brand. Would Apple be the brand we know if iPhones were cheap devices?

Quality is also the starting point to build on other brand’s characteristics, like high status.

High-status: Chic, elegant, exclusive. And, of course, expensive. Think Chanel, Louis Vuitton, or Rolls Royce.

High-status make users look good in front of their peers.

Design: Apple built an empire upon good design and aesthetics. Ignore aesthetics, and you’ll lose sales.

Rebellious: Create an “us vs. them” dynamic in your market. Show your audience that you’re in a battle against something, whether it’s a person, a society construct, or another company.

People will join you, and buy from you.

In its early days, Apple represented a rebellious brand. Their main enemy was IBM. Vans is another example of a brand for rebellious individuals.

Subculture: Pick a subculture, and focus on growing your status in that subculture.

This can be great for brands just starting out, because reaching a smaller subculture community requires fewer resources.

These are our most favorite brand characteristic of the nine that Liam Curley sared in this post. Make sure to check out the full thread for the rest.

Here’s an underrated copywriting tactic

Most of the time, your customer doesn’t fully understand their own problems.

And it’s more common than you think: You want whiter teeth, but you don’t understand why your teeth are yellow.

You want to stop hair loss, but you don’t understand why it’s happening.

You want to hire in another country, but you don’t understand foreign subsidiaries and labor laws.

When your customers don’t fully understand their problem, they’re less likely to understand why your solution is valuable.

So try this copywriting technique: Write out the top three things that are holding back your customers from solving their problem.

Then, write out how your product solves those problems.

Finally, work it into your marketing.

Here’s how that might apply to a tooth-whitening product:

  • Education: Your teeth are yellow because acids from drinks like coffee and wine have discolored them. Solution: Our product uses whitening agents which cut through acid buildup and restore your teeth to their natural color.
  • Education: Your whitening toothpaste doesn’t work because it’s not strong enough. Solution: Our product has ingredients stronger than you’ll find in any over-the-counter toothpaste, which means it whitens better than standard toothpaste.
  • Education: Many whitening products are dangerous and damage your teeth, making it even harder to get white teeth. Solution: Our product is FDA-approved and extensively tested to be gentle on teeth, with the strongest whitening around.

Most of the time, copywriters only focus on the second half: The solution.

But sometimes, educating your customers beforehand is the trick to making the sale.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

E-COMMERCE: A lot of e-commerce news sources have hyped augmented reality (AR). So is it all hype, or is there actual utility behind it? This research from Snap in partnership with Publicis and Alter Agents tries to answer that question.

CREATIVES: DALL-E could be your next designer… At least when it comes to simple requests. Check out this example from Twitter user @marauders to see what we mean.

TIKTOK: Pleasure before business. TikTok says it’s an entertainment platform, not a social network. That can mean many things, but for marketers, it definitely means your content should be entertaining.

PAYMENTS: Almost one year later, India has lifted business restrictions on Mastercard, allowing the company to accept new customers from the country. American Express and Diners Club aren’t so lucky… restrictions on those cards remain in place.

E-COMMERCE: Don’t underestimate the power of non-traditional marketplaces! Etsy keeps growing and just hit a new record for off-season monthly downloads. Just how high is the new high? Over 2 million!

Etsy Hits Highest (Ever) Off-Season Downloads

We Love You, Tube!

The Story

YouTube Shorts is pulling TikTok numbers while getting ahead in the live shopping game.

A Little Healthy Competition

YouTube Shorts says that after making its U.S. debut in March 2021, its monthly usership is up to 1.5 billion. With a bigger push for creator collaboration and live stream shopping making up a portion of its 2022 goals, we’d say YouTube is making a case for Shorts greatness. The 1B significance is telling of its growing success; for comparison, TikTok reached 1 billion MAUs in September 2021 after launching in 2016.

B-E-A-You-TIFUL

Speaking of shopping on Shorts, brands are getting involved in a big way. Skincare and cosmetics brand, Glossier, partnered with YouTube Shorts to launch the Glossier Challenge, a shoppable video competition. This comes on the cusp of YouTube’s live-streamed 2022 Beauty Festival, which debuted the Glossier Challenge and also partnered with a bunch of celebs you know, like Ashley Graham, Kehlani, and more.

STC POV

YouTube is primed for shoppable live stream excellence. Why? It’s been in the video space since prominent influencers of today were tweens. With commerce integrations top of mind for all platforms, YouTube is capitalizing on the strengths that have made it one of the top social platforms across all ages. Does TikTok have to look out for that number one spot?

TikTok Lessons Come In Mysterious Ways

The Story

From new music (Beyoncé???) to dance trends, reaction sound bytes to talking heads to quotable remixes, summer on TikTok is just heating up.

A Puppet Called Dinx

Trends come and go on TikTok, but that’s the beauty of its ever-evolving content. And one of the biggest new stars that we can learn from? Dinx the puppet, whose strategy shows us that authenticity, profile pinning, and community management is a gamechanger. The wholesome edutainment of @starwarsdinx makes for a TikTok success story you need to see to believe.

@starwarsdinx

Best Foot Forward

As always, Internet safety is a focus – and TikTok is doing its part to highlight red flags when it can. A new tool schedules screentime breaks and tracks daily usage to help users improve their digital wellbeing. In addition, creators are speaking out about viral TikTok content that is actually #sponcon. Fetish site, FeetFinder, has been called out for their influencer marketing campaign that has relied on creators claiming that they’ve made thousands from posting on the site – but the reality is that those claims were undisclosed paid sponsorships.

STC POV

TikTok is constantly showing us what to do and what not to do in terms of sponsored content. Sometimes a puppet inspires you to pursue new strategies; sometimes FeetFinder shows you how not to use sponsored content. One thing is for sure – there’s never a dull moment in influencer marketing, especially on this particular channel.

Amazon’s Summer Plans

The Story

Amazon rewarded its top-performing influencers with a three-day getaway to a private retreat in Todos Santos, Mexico.

Sun, Sand, and Todos Santos

Spa treatments. Gourmet dinners. Cocktail hours. R&R time by the pool. Beach content. That’s the dream vacation that an intimate group of Amazon Influencers was treated to at the Amazon Resort. After seeing what not to do, modeled by Coachella’s Revolve Fest and the oft-mentioned Fyre Festival disaster, Amazon made a case for what experiential marketing should look like.

Thank You, Creators

Amazon’s Influencer Program requires that participants have proven activity and engagement on other social media platforms like TikTok, YouTube, Facebook, or Instagram. With a host of creators present from all around the influencer marketing sphere, you’d think that this prime vacation would involve some content demands in return. The twist? No content production required. Though many did take the beautiful backdrop as an opportunity to capture beautiful content, Amazon kept it low-key and low-pressure.

STC POV

Experiential marketing is certainly making a comeback. But also emerging is something new, set by Amazon’s example — the reward for valuable work that doesn’t capitalize on anything but unwinding and relaxing. With mostly positive feedback from creators who enjoyed the special getaway, we’re pleased to see that not every influencer-focused experience is at risk of Fyre Festival-level infamy.

New ad format for you to check out on Pinterest

Looks like last year’s new Idea pin format was a success for Pinterest.

Because now the platform has decided to turn Idea pins into ads.

Going the hybrid format route: Just announced Pinterest Idea ads should provide brands with more tools to make their audience want to engage.

The full-screen vertical format will allow you to include both video and image content to create ads specifically designed to drive traffic.

Additionally, Pinterest announced Idea ads with paid partnerships feature. This helps you connect with popular creators and produce promotional content using the format.

Why we care: The launch of Idea ads can be a nice boost for e-commerce brands advertising on Pinterest.

Also, the combination of image and video format ads can help bring your products to life in more immersive ways.

Speaking of video formats…

Short videos are here to stay

Vine introduced them. TikTok made them staple…

And now Google is also reaping the benefits of short video format.

Winning the short-form game: Google announced that more than 1.5 billion people watch YouTube Shorts every month.

Third-party estimates peg TikTok at 1.6B monthly users, while Instagram Reels apparently counts for 20% of all time spent on the platform by its 2 billion users.

This seems to further prove platforms are banking on short videos to be the primary communication channel for the younger generation.

Why we care: While it’s still not sure if the format will win the race, it’s currently well positioned as a source of engagement and acquisition – and an attractive promotional channel.

This might be a good time to experiment with short-form video content in your ads.

Not sure how to start those experiments? Here are some TikTok success stories that can help you in the… short-term… See what we did there?

What you need to know about Google’s Optimized Pricing

Google recently released a new feature for advertisers that monetize their content with ads: Optimized Pricing.

The goal of this feature is to maximize the long-term revenue of a slice of ad inventory you sell.

Optimize Pricing works on top of Unified Pricing Rules (UPR) to protect the value of ad inventory. It prevents media buyers from purchasing that ad inventory for less than its set worth.

Basically, Google helps publishers by selling their media inventory at the highest bid. But how does it balance it with bidding optimization on the seller side? Because Google also optimizes to offer advertisers the lowest bid.

And how does Google determine the price for media inventory? Kean Wang gives an explanation in this AdExchanger article.

With Optimized Pricing helping publishers protect the fair value of their inventory, buyers are better informed of the competition and can offer higher bids that compete for the impression.

However, Prebid auctions only happen before and outside of the Google Ads Manager. Therefore, Unified Pricing Rules are not propagated to Prebid bidders.

So, what’s the solution? Optimized Pricing won’t decrease the floor’s pricing when they’re set too high. As a publisher, it’s important to manage your UPR structure, and leave room for Optimized Pricing to work.

Test it: Unfortunately, Optimized Pricing is not a feature you can A/B test. But you can set it up for a period of time, and analyze performance before and after.

A simple tip for boosting performance on your social media ads

Dark mode.

You’re probably using it on your phone & your social media platforms –– about 82% of people prefer dark mode for their phones.

What does this have to do with advertising?

Well, we’re here today with a very specific tip: If you use platform-native social proof, take screenshots of that social proof in dark mode.

For example: If you’re running an ad on Twitter which uses a screenshot of a customer’s tweet as the creative, take a screenshot of that tweet with your Twitter in dark mode.

Why it works: Most people use dark mode. If you’re using platform-native social proof, using that creative in dark mode helps it feel more organic for the 80% of people that use dark mode. In other words, it feels less like an ad and more like a real post.

It won’t work for everyone, but it does for some –– give it a shot!

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

E-COMMERCE: PayPal announced “PayPal Pay monthly” which will allow customers to separate their purchase into 6 to 24 monthly payments. This should make selling and buying high-ticket products via PayPal much easier…

BING: Google Shopping is about to get a new competitor. Bing is testing an online marketplace they claim is “better than Google Shopping” as it will let users set their shopping preferences to see only relevant products. Let’s see how that goes.

BUSINESS: Back to school means back to spending. Mastercard forecasts a 7.5% spending surge during this year’s back to school sale, with department stores leading the growth. Good news for the upcoming holiday season?

GOOGLE: Search Console is about to get simpler. New reports will label pages only as valid and invald – depending on whether they appear on Google – cutting the dubious “valid with warnings” category.

TWITTER: Brick and mortar businesses get a Twitter boost! Stores in the U.S, Canada, and Australia can now display business location, hours, and more contact information on their profiles. Pretty cool!

GOOGLE: The company’s Discover feed seems to be turning into a “can I copy your homework” meme. Users are plagiarizing Web Stories so they can appear on the feed and there seems to be no way of stopping it… yet.

Facebook’s feed algorithm is about to get more “TikTok-y”

If imitation is a form of flattery, TikTok is probably blushing.

Meta already stole their short video format and named it Reels…

Now they’re rethinking the feed: Going by a Facebook memo obtained by The Verge, Meta plans to revamp their feed algorithm so that it focuses on interests instead of connections.

That means the feed algorithm would start recommending posts as long as they fit your interests.

Nothing against mom and dad, but… It also means the platform would stop prioritizing posts from the accounts you follow, like friends or family.

Plus, Messenger and Facebook apps will once again merge, replicating TikTok’s messaging feature.

Meanwhile, TikTok is focused on shopping: They just released a report that outlines how users behave based on the stages of the customer’s journey.

TikTok also added a Shops tab allowing you to manage your online commerce on the platform… another step toward a full-fledged online marketplace.

Why we care: TikTok seems to be in the driving seat when it comes to platform features and e-commerce, while other social media giants are playing catch up.

As if e-commerce marketers needed another reason to use this channel…

Is it time to start raising prices?

Telling customers you’re raising prices is right up there with saying “no” to being in a friend’s wedding party.

Awkward.

But US inflation has hit a 40-year record high, raising costs of goods and services across the board.

For some online retailers, it might be time to have “the talk.” For others? Not so much.

What’s going up: Groceries, pet products, and clothes. According to Adobe’s Digital Price Index, the price of groceries went up almost 12% compared to last year.

Flowers and gifts increased by 11%, while apparel and pet products went up by 9%.

Considering all these industries do well during holiday seasons—and with Q4 approaching—this might be a signal to test an increase in your pricing.

What’s going down: Electronics prices (around 7%), toys (6.5%), jewelry (3.2%), and books (1.42%).

If you’re in these industries, be careful with raising the prices. You don’t want to overprice your products!

Why we care: Making the right pricing decisions can help you maintain stability long-term.

So before you bump prices, make sure your counterparts are doing the same, or you might lose to the competition.

4 issues you won’t find with SEO auditing tools

Yes, SEO tools continue to improve, but there are some issues they still can’t identify.

In Search Engine Land, John McAlpin shows you exactly what they are, and how to detect and solve them.

Let’s go…

1) Canonical to redirect loop: This happens when a page has a canonical tag pointing to a different URL that then redirects to the first URL.

While Google allows you to have a redirected page as a canonical, having it loop back to the previous page sends a confusing signal. So the page may not rank as high as you’d like.

2) Hacked pages: Hacking websites for profit is nothing new. Some of the most common practices are:

  • Site search manipulation. When a website’s search pages are indexable, a malicious person hacks it to send tons of backlinks to their search results page.
  • 301 redirect manipulation. This happens when someone redirects traffic with 301 redirects.
  • Site takedowns. A classic, straightforward attack. The hacker manipulates your code to make your website unusable or non-indexable.

3) Identifying JS links: Most of us know that Google does not crawl internal links generated by JavaScript. And unfortunately, neither do SEO auditing tools.

4) Content hidden by JavaScript: This happens when some content is hidden behind a user action. Google doesn’t click on anything on web pages, which means it won’t find the content.

So there you go… Four issues that standalone SEO auditing tools won’t find.

The good news is, by combining the web crawling tool of your choice and Google Search Console, you can identify these mistakes. And when you do, John’s post shows you how to fix each one.

Need to hire actors for your social media ads?

Here’s a tip: If you want video content for your social media ads, you don’t always need to hire an expensive influencer.

You can achieve the same results by hiring an actor from popular freelance and gig platforms.

Why it’s smart: Many brands want influencer or customer-created content so they can repurpose the videos for their own social media advertising.

So they hire influencers to create content, then use that content for ads of their own.

But there’s no reason you can’t hire an actor instead. The process is easier, faster, and often cheaper.

And you don’t have to invent fire. Brands have been using actors in advertising for ages.

Truth is, most social proof video ads on social media don’t work because customers recognize the person in the video… They work because there is a person in the video.

Showing living, breathing humans makes your ads feel real.

The exception, of course, is when your audience members are already avid fans of an existing influencer.

In that case, there is a material difference between hiring an influencer and an actor for your social media ads.

But if audience recognition isn’t important, hire actors!

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

MICROSOFT: Want to get in? You have to get past the bouncer. Microsoft is requiring advertisers to go through a verification process to confirm their identity. Hopefully this means fewer scammers.

META: Wow. Based on the decision made by France’s antitrust authority, Facebook will make the past five years of their platform’s advertising data available! Does this mean we’ll be able to explore more of our ad campaign’s historical data?

AMAZON: Hooray for data points. Amazon added new columns to their ad platform—Add to cart, Branded searches, and Cumulative reach metrics. Nice!

EBAY: Selling collectibles? eBay is launching a Live Shopping for Collectibles feature that will let customers “discover, chat, and purchase collectibles instantly” on the platform. Could be a useful channel for niche e-commerce brands…

Hell freezes over.

Adobe is making Photoshop free on the web. It’ll be freemium — most features are free to use, but you’ll have to pay for some of the premium ones.

Telegram is rolling out its premium version later this month.

It’s not clear what’s on offer for subscribers, but this could include the ability to upload larger files. You may also get premium stickers and reactions, if that’s your thing.

If you’re a big Google Meet user like I am, you’ll know that Meet already does a fantastic job removing keyboard typing sounds.

Now it’ll also start removing echo from your room.

If you’re a modern media company, you probably understand that your CRM is probably more important than your CMS.

Understanding your relationship with individual people and what they want from you might just be more important than how quickly you publish, or how well you organise your content. I’ve been paying more attention to CRMs lately. Folk is a new and interesting one to try out.

What do news startups actually need?

Google News Initiative is running a survey to find out, and I think this is especially important as this space evolves. Not everyone needs yet another workshop on how to write a headline. If you’re a startup founder, or anywhere in the early-stage news media publishing space, this is your chance to let them know what you need.

Are your kids as obsessed with Bluey as mine are?

Here’s how a show that only appeared in 2018 in Australia has become a global merchandising machine. “Those usual rules about how you go about licensing have been thrown to the wind.”

Netflix is turning the Squid Game into a real-life challenge.

It’s looking for 456 real players to join the game in pursuit of a life-changing cash prize of $4.56 million. Not sure if murder is an option. But here’s where you can apply.

The New York Times is testing games in its news app.

It wants to see if this is a way to get you back into the app more regularly, and if that leads to more subs. And perhaps some of you would go on to subscribe to games separately. Who knows. “Multiproduct subscribers pay the most and retain best” — bundle subscribers churn at a rate of less than 40% compared with news-only ones, according to the chief product officer. The company wants to reach 15 million subscribers by the end of 2027.

A new study finds that when it comes to climate mis- or dis-information, fact-checking outfits are failing because there isn’t a meaningful response from the tech platforms.

It found that despite partnerships with organisations like IFCN, tech companies aren’t willing to enforce their own policies. Other interesting bits from the Institute for Strategic Dialogue’s report:

  1. Mis- and dis-info continue to outperform verified content — even when the latter is promoted by the platforms themselves.
  2. The most prominent anti-climate content is driven by influential experts, many with verified accounts.  Some are scientists themselves who are presented as “rationalist environmentalists”.
  3. Image-based dis-info spreads wider — and is harder to pin down.
  4. Traditional media outlets give credence to anti-climate views, and in particular The Daily Mail, The Telegraph, The Wall Street Journal, and Sky News Australia served as key content hubs.

YouTube hasn’t quite had the same scrutiny from researchers.

Longform videos are harder to get through, so you don’t see the same attention from regulators and journalists as the other platforms do. This report from NYU Stern’s Center for Business and Human Rights wants to change that.

The Verge got hold of some internal documents from Meta showing how the company is planning to change its algo to take on TikTok, which has completely changed the way a new generation of users take to social media.

Social video = social media. “I think the thing we probably didn’t fully embrace or see is how social this format could be.” This is how Facebook is thinking about it:

  • Rather than prioritising posts from accounts that people follow, FB’s feed will start recommending posts from anywhere. This is especially interesting to me — we’ve moved from “let me show you what people you follow are posting” to “let me show you stuff that’s getting engagement from everywhere”. Noise is getting sticky.
  • Messenger and Facebook (currently thought of as separate apps serving different functions) will be brought together — similar to TT’s messaging functionality.
  • Double down on Reels as a format — more Reels, more Reels, more Reels. You can’t do social media without social video.

Check out the full FB doc embedded in this article. (It’s also a good case study on how to communicate new ideas as strategy changes, but that’s for another day.)

So how’s YouTube going with its own short videos?

It put out numbers this week — and it’s impressive: 1.5 billion monthly users. That’s 50% more than TT’s, and is pretty close to YouTube’s own 2 billion MAUs. It’s clear something is working with Shorts, and that means YT will double down on it. Do you have a Shorts strategy?

Pinterest reportedly signed a major deal with Tastemade to create 50 new TV shows, live videos and events.

Terms weren’t disclosed but Axios says it’s in the millions. “When you look at the content that Tastemade has on Pinterest, it does 200% above the average pin in terms of the save rate that content generates.”

Preparing for the worst, Spotify is reducing new hiring by 25%.

“We are clearly aware of the increasing uncertainty regarding the global economy. And while we have yet to see any material impact to our business, we are keeping a close eye on the situation and evaluating our headcount growth in the near term.

Consciousness as Content

While marketers talk up the opportunities in the metaverse, the truth is this digital world already exists to a certain degree. It can be accessed on your smartphone but the promised immersive experience isn’t a reality yet. While the race to create immersive devices has started, one thing is certain – when you enter the metaverse your identity or consciousness translates into data. This opens a privacy and security nightmare, one much bigger in scale than we’re dealing with now.

Investment in the Metaverse

Regardless of any moral quandaries, one may have when turning consciousness into data and content, many businesses are investing in the metaverse now. A recent survey found a third of businesses were dedicating 10-20% of marketing budgets to the metaverse. That’s quite a lot of money for a concept yet to be fully realised.

How would you define the budget that your company invests in the metaverse?

AR in Teams

But the metaverse is getting closer. A London-based AR content creation and publishing platform, Blippar, recently announced integration into Microsoft Teams. The no-code AR creation tool, Blippbuilder, means marketers with no coding knowledge can create immersive AR experiences that can be shared through Teams. It signals the move of the metaverse out of “walled garden” digital worlds to mainstream apps and internet usage.

Shopping on Twitter

Twitter has announced it’s rolling out a new shopping feature called, Product Drops. Retailers can tease the launch of new products or services and shoppers can click a “Remind Me” button. Shoppers are notified 15-minutes before release and can be redirected to the merchant’s website to complete their purchase. Twitter is all about immediacy and this feature definitely taps into shopper’s FOMO.

Interesting Marketing Video and Report

For the content creators out there – payment or exposure?


How many ways can you sell a bar of soap? A lot when the client keeps changing their mind.

Animation creates a cute side to the horror that is travelling long-haul flights with kids.

This is immensely useful for anybody who publishes anything on the interwebs: How should you prioritise SEO?

Simon Owens asks — and answers — in his fine newsletter. You’ll discover things like the difference between SEO-friendly content and share-friendly content (the first “attempts to answer questions that people are likely to type into Google, usually at a time when they immediately need an answer to their question; the second “is either news-pegged or contains some component that would compel its readers to share it — whether it’s to express their political views, advertise their own expertise, or bring joy to others.”) One publisher had a profound insight — that interview content didn’t do well on search because interviews rarely get straight to the point. So they began creating landing pages with specific ‘how-to’ titles, and “several categories at the top that included “summary,” “startup costs,” “businesses,” “pros & cons,” and “marketing ideas.” Their traffic went nuts: “ from 100,000 unique visitors to a million per month”. You should really read this.

DALL-E is a text-to-image AI tool that can turn your text prompts and generate images from them.

This is as profound a game-changer as text-to-voice and voice-to-text used to be, and it’s blowing people’s minds. I love this review by Casey Newton, who’s one of the lucky few private beta testers able to play with this crazy beast. He’s pretty excited — for good reason: “Nearly every time, I would find myself cursing out loud and laughing at how good the results were. For example, here’s a result from “a shiba inu dog dressed as a firefighter.”” But more importantly, it’s interesting to see where this technology could go. Would it help you to save some money on an illustrator for your newsroom? (Don’t hate me, illustrator friends — like most technology, the point isn’t to replace you; it’s to give you a different kind of competition, which arguably makes everybody better at delivering to your consumer what they actually want.) Or are there other use cases? “One artist is using DALL-E to create augmented reality filters for social apps. A chef in Miami is using it to get new ideas for how to plate his dishes. Ben Thompson wrote a prescient piece about how DALL-E could be used to create extremely cheap environments and objects in the metaverse.” I’ve signed up for the beta, and I bet you can’t wait for my nonsensical creations.

You already know what an NFT is. Right?

Now you can make one for yourself. That’s right — here’s a whole NFT art generator for you to play with, made by the incomparable Pablo Stanley, one of the most prolific media creators I have ever seen. His Bueno Generator can do things like control rarity, which essentially means that the more rare a non-fungible token is, the more it’s worth. It can also set rules, which gives you “greater control over the way your NFTs look.” You can auto-generate multi-chain metadata, which means that you can generate metadata for Ethereum or Solana. And you can make animated NFTs. And the best part: the whole thing is no-code. If you make any NFTs, send me your creations.

Adobe released the obvious extension to its image tools — a visual misinfo toolkit.

It’s a perverse blend of paradox and capitalism that makes the creator of Photoshop, arguably the world’s most powerful enabler of visual misinformation, also the creator of what they’re calling the Content Authenticity Initiative. The CAI, which is open source, comes in three parts: “a JavaScript SDK for building ways to display the content credentials in browsers, a command line utility and a Rust SDK for creating desktop apps, mobile apps and other experiences to create, view and verify embedded content credentials.”

Are you ready for a premium Telegram subscription?

They’re launching one this month with “additional features, speed and resources.” Apparently, users want to be able to upload larger files — and premium-only stickers — which don’t seem to me to be the world’s greatest reason to upgrade. Telegram’s existing features will continue to be free to use.

Remember the screensaver?

I used to love those things, and I’d sit and watch them on my clunky old PC with the CRT monitor until they burned into my eyes. (Yes, I had way more time on my hands back then.) Screen burn-in used to be a real thing. Plus, the lawn-mower screensaver guy and the way he mowed your entire desktop was pretty awesome. And how about those flying toasters?! (You 2000s kids have no clue what I’m talking about, huh?) Anyway, the screensaver, like most relics of my generation, is now an art form, and I love the way this piece talks through its place in time. “Screensavers are clearly kind of useless, in the way art is meant to be useless. There’s something slightly naive about them.”

Hey, I have a random and meaningless little trick for you that you’re going to love.

Try typing ‪[CHIRPBIRDICON]‬ into your Twitter (app or web). Cool, huh? The code behind the magic has to do with Twitter’s Chirp font (did you know Twitter had a font called Chirp? Now you do.). It “has a rule to substitute that sequence of glyphs with U+EA00 which is a private-space Unicode point assigned to a Twitter bird glyph.” Tried it yet?

This is a great insight into what it takes to be in the newsletter biz.

Ted Fickes popped this gem into the #newsletters channel on our Planet Splice Slack community about Alicia Kennedy, who “[s]hares stats on subscribers (total, paid, free), opens, subscriber fees and some general info how she does it.” There’s some good, solid, jargon-free advice in here — my favourite flavour of advice. I especially loved this one on how to do a paid newsletter: “Have paid subscriptions as an option and see whether people are interested in paying you.”

Meta is about to drop a major TV campaign that will advertise…the metaverse.

The problem they need to solve is that investors need to buy into the concept. To make that happen, they need to convince the world that this whole metaverse thing is real. Apparently, the campaign features the tagline, “The metaverse may be virtual but the impact will be real.” Got it.

Here’s what it’s like to visit your average website in 2022.

I mean, seriously, which of us hasn’t faced this onslaught?
“Figure out how to decline all but essential cookies
2. Close the support widget asking if I need help
3. Stop the auto-playing video
4. Close the “subscribe to our newsletter” pop-up
5. Try and remember why I came here in the first place
6. A browser message asking if you’ll accept push notifications
7. Another asking if you’re willing to share your location
8. A banner suggesting you download the iPhone app
9. An NPS survey asking you to rate the site.”
There’s a better way to do the web, people. Is your website like this? Please. Just don’t.

Analytics is getting easier, or harder – depending on where you look

If you’re using analytics tools (you are, right?), we’ve got some good news… and some bad news.

Google Analytics should get easier: You won’t have to worry that traffic data coming from the EU will violate any EU policies.

Google introduced additional domains ensuring EU-based data is collected through EU-based servers. Yay!

The company also announced that Google Ads manager integration with web data for Google Analytics 4 is now in open beta.

…but Firefox data collection may get harder: The browser is launching Total Cookie Protection by default, which should prevent browsing data “leaking” all over the web.

Firefox will confine all cookies to a “cookie jar” on the site where they’re created, allowing you to still gain enough on-site analytics data to, for example, improve user experience.

However, you can wave bye-bye to the browser tracking data from website to website, which can notably impair your advertising efforts.

Oh, and while we’re talking about advertising…

Choose your advertising platforms carefully

We all know it’s recommended to put your eggs in more than one basket when advertising online.

But it looks like there aren’t many effective “baskets” left on the market.

The Big Five supremacy: According to a new Axios report, the five biggest tech companies – Amazon, Google, Meta, ByteDance, and Alibaba – owned more than half, or 53%, of all global advertising revenue last year.

This is quite a jump from last year, when they held 46% of the market.

Zoom out, and the situation looks similar. Top 25 advertisers now account for 74% of global spend – a 6% increase compared to 2021.

It isn’t going to change soon: According to experts, the global advertising market is moving towards a “better safe than sorry” strategy to battle the incoming crisis.

This means less advertisers will allocate their budget to the likes of Pinterest and Twitter, and instead “consolidate the ad spend towards very few effective platforms like Meta and Google.”

What does this mean: On one hand, the crisis may push you to follow other advertisers and allocate most of your budget to most proven platforms as well.

But at the same time, less competition on smaller advertising platforms means lower ad costs and more exposure… Time for some big decisions?

Why you should create a Facebook Ads dashboard in Google Data Studio and how to do it

The Facebook Ads platform allows you to create some good reports that give you deep insights about your campaigns. But it’s still with rather limited flexibility so many marketers want more.

And a single dashboard can elevate your reporting to a new level, and help you make better decisions.

That’s why a dashboard in Google Data Studio can be useful.

And as Andrea Atzori explains in this Search Engine Journal post, there are different reasons:

  • Google Data Studio is easy to use, fast, and most importantly, it’s free.
  • You can natively import Google Analytics data. This means you can easily compare your Facebook Ads results against other channels.
  • Google Data Studio dashboards are easy to use. And dashboards are better than reports to analyze and compare data sets and data ranges.

That’s the “why”… Now let’s move to the “how”.

Importing Facebook data into Google Data Studio is not immediate. But the steps Andrea outlined in the SEJ post make it really simple.

First, you need to import the data. Then design and build the dashboards. It’s a total of seven steps and you can check them here.

You can try by starting with a simple dashboard, then create new richer versions with different views, tables, charts, and more.

Why Stephen King’s writing method works so well (and why you should try it)

Stephen King has had one of the most prolific writing careers of our time––of all time, really. If you haven’t read Stephen King, you’ve probably watched a movie or TV show adaptation of one of his books. Odds are, many of you have done both.

His writing method is a breath of fresh air: King doesn’t outline his books, nor does he go in with a solid idea of where the story is heading or how it’ll end. That would ruin the fun, he says.

Instead, King starts with an idea––a character, a place, a moment––and works from there. He’s written a laundry list of bestsellers with this routine.

Why this matters for you: Marketing can often be an intense, by-the-book, analytics-obsessed game. This results in cookie-cutter ads, templated blog posts, and marketers endlessly copying each other, praying for success.

But the most memorable marketing almost never arises from analytics-obsessed templates. It arises from somebody writing like Stephen King, starting with an idea, and seeing where the story takes them.

So, let this post serve as a reminder: Next time you write copy or brainstorm ad campaigns, take a step back from the numbers and the templates and the Twitter threads. Write like Stephen King for a while––it’s almost necessary if you want to create something truly memorable.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

GOOGLE: It looks like Google wants to address third-party Google Ads reps, who are often popping in social posts giving out bad advice and often being plain rude. No offense to good Google reps… we know you’re out there as well!

TIKTOK: E-commerce startups have found their new promotional channel of choice. You’ve guessed it… New DTC brands are happy to allocate up to 50% of their social advertising budget to TikTok.

APPLE: Uh-oh…The German government started an investigation on Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT). The reason? German regulators believe that the feature is giving the company an unfair competitive advantage.

Apple announces “easier to use” version of their attribution API

User measurement on Apple may soon become smoother.

The company published documentation about their upcoming 4.0 version of SKAdNetwork – their privacy-focused attribution solution – and first signs are positive.

Why this is important: After Apple’s App Tracking Transparency Policy (ATT) rolled out, SKAdNetwork became the main way to track data and optimize ads.

But while the versions prior were limited and – according to experts – “painful to use”, the new update seem to address most of the issues:

  • Web-to-app attribution: Advertisers can finally track users who got to the AppStore by clicking on a mobile web display ad. Not sure if the feature will support only Safari or it will be available on other browsers.
  • Three conversion windows: Also, advertisers can now get three postbacks per advertised app over a period of 35 days. This can help get a better overview of the funnel, but there won’t be a way to connect them to an individual.
  • Hierarchical conversion values: You’ll now get some data back even if your apps don’t get enough conversions to meet the privacy threshold.
  • Source identifiers: Apple will allow you to add more tracking parameters such as ad placement and campaign ID. It will also increase the number of campaign IDs if your ads meet higher privacy thresholds – e.g. high anonymity will get you 1,000 IDs.

Why we care: With ATT opt-in rates still below 50%, a sophisticated attribution method is mandatory to measure ad performance.

The upcoming SKAdNetwork seems to be a step in the right direction…

How you can use personalized ads for your local business

We don’t often get tips on how to advertise on Instagram and Facebook… from Facebook.

But their recently published success story gives us a hint of how you can use personalized ads to boost traffic, engagement, and finally sales for your small local business…particularly before big sales and holidays.

Hyper-targeting for a hyper niche brand: An owner of a small vegan cake store used insights from her previous Facebook campaigns to map out a perfect avatar – Locals interested in veganism and cakes.

She uses the avatar to create an awareness campaign with only a $10 daily budget every week before an event she wants to promote.

According to Indira, the owner, this method helped her acquire a staggering number of customers during Mother’s Day and other holidays.

Why we care: There are holidays all year round. These holidays are often an opportunity for a strong campaign.

If you’re a local store you can use this method to promote offers on a small budget and still acquire new customers that can later become your brand’s loyalists.

Seems like a low risk high reward strategy… And some lessons apply for more than just local businesses.

Marketing to high vs low emotional state audiences

There are tons of copywriting formats, templates, tactics, and tips out there.

However, principles beat tactics and templates. And this is what this post shared by Alen Sultanic in the Nothing Held Back group is about.

You see, every market is driven by a different emotion.

In the men’s dating market, it’s hope. When selling trading courses, it’s certainty. For weight loss, the motion is often shame.

You can split the emotions of different markets into two groups:

  • Low emotional state.
  • High emotional state.

If you go to a marketing conference, the attendees are likely high emotional buyers. They feel good, they are positive, and they are energetic. They are doing well with their life and they’re looking to do better.

On the other hand, people in a low emotional state are… not where they want to be, either professionally, personally, mentally, physically… You can find these buyers in the health, and fitness industries.

The huge difference between the two is:

  • High-emotional buyers are solution-focused: They are interested in the “how”. They know they have a problem and they just want to understand how to fix it.
  • Low emotional state buyers are problem-focused: They’re interested in the “why”. “Why am I poor?”, “Why am I lonely?”, or “Why can’t I lose weight?”.

What does this mean in practice?

  • Copy: When you write copy for low emotional audiences, lead with the why. Focus on the problem. If you market to high-emotional audiences, lead with the “how”.
  • Funnel length: People in a low-emotional state will be more likely to go through long video sales letters. But with high-emotional buyers, get to the point faster.
  • High emotional state customers tend to buy from branded companies and will do more due diligence on you.
  • Low emotional state customers do not buy high ticket offers. Since they focus on the “why”, they’re stuck on the same problem. They usually buy many low-ticket offers, rather than focusing on one solution.

This can potentially change the way you do marketing. And there are more differences that you can check in Alen’s post.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

E-COMMERCE: If you’re in the direct-to-consumer (DTC) space and don’t have subscription plans…what are you waiting for? Because reports claim 75% of DTC will offer subscriptions by the end of the year.

TIKTOK: How to earn your first billion quickly as an e-commerce brand? It looks like all you have to do is become viral on TikTok. Yep, “just going viral on TikTok”. But seriously though, this is a sign of how powerful TikTok’s platform can be.

APPLE: Remember that we mentioned Apple announced push notifications for Safari? They’ve officially published the part where they talked about it.

YOUTUBE: Seems like Google will try to fight off EU claims that it restricts rivals and advertisers access to user data by… allowing those same entities to now advertise on the platform. Smooth move.

ADVERTISING: Tired of talks about inflation and recessions? Well, looks like marketers can cheer up with global advertising expected to grow by 8.4% this year. Kind of keeping up with reported inflation rates… Yay!

Facebook’s Developing “Basic Ads” to Help with Privacy Concerns

In order to offset ongoing privacy concerns, Basic Ads will measure things by metrics such as engagement and views, not personal data. Basically, the reach of your ad will really depend on how engaging it is. That means you’ll have to start getting use to working with less data that you’d usually get from privacy information, which yes, lacks the powerful targeting feature of other ad types. Sounds like digital advertising could become more… limited. Time to turn your creativity charm back on! It’ll be the most important marketing tool you’ll need in the next coming months.

Apple and Microsoft Introduce New Channels

Which means more ways for you to target your audience! For Apple, users will have new offers, promos, and more via opt-in web alerts. For Microsoft, they’ve launched Video Ads and an upgraded Audience ads, letting you add more images, headlines, and descriptions while you let the algorithm assess for the best targeted results. This is something to pay attention to as we see more privacy rules start to kick in, making it more difficult to acquire customers. Keeping your eyes on new ways to advertise on different channels can help you improve your marketing efforts greatly.

Cannabis Retailers Headed to the Metaverse

Just another retailer making its way to obtaining property in a bunch of metaverse platforms to promote their brands. Now, these virtual stores can’t actually sell anything…but what they can do is drive traffic. It’s still too early to tell whether they can deliver solid conversions from all that traffic but if you’re finding it difficult to advertise on traditional platforms, maybe it’s time to try the virtual world. Or if you’re really just looking for a new way to market your product, just follow in the steps of these so-called “debatable” industries.

LinkedIn introduces Event Ads and opt-in forms for Pages

It seems to be a busy time for the biggest business social network.

After announcing a centralized Business Manager last week, LinkedIn is now rolling out two interesting additions.

Bring your event in the spotlight: You can now promote your event by boosting an organic event post.

If you boost it, it will automatically create an event ad and you can choose your target audience, time range, and budget for the campaign.

You’ll also be able to follow the performance of the promoted event, such as views, clicks, and completed sign ups. Sweet.

Also… lead signups from your LinkedIn page: Your company page can now include a Lead Gen form with a customized text and a call to action (CTA).

So when users visit your brand’s page, they can fill in the form adding their contact details – such as email address or phone number.

Why these features matter: If you organize online – and offline – events, LinkedIn’s new Event Ads feature can be pretty relevant. Especially since it’s one of the few platforms that allows advertising events natively.

Also, sign up forms on company pages can help eliminate friction when it comes to users giving you first-party data.

Signing up directly from LinkedIn is much easier than coming to your page, getting hit by a pop-up.. or similar, exhausting “journeys”.

Relevant backlinks may soon come from Twitter

Google ignored Twitter links for a long time, but it looks like Twitter started to spill link juice.

SEO expert Chris Silver Smith found out that Twitter removed the “rel=nofollow” tag from their hyperlink code, meaning all backlinks from the platform are now technically “do follow.”

Tweeting for domain rating: While it’s still early days, having a relevant backlink from Twitter can give your website a significant authority boost.

Of course, there’s concern that Google will simply disavow the entire platform and ignore all links coming from it.

But experts believe that Google will instead use their spam signals to separate relevant content from irrelevant bot tweets when deciding which content is influential.

In other words, link spamming the feed shouldn’t bear fruit… or juice.

Why we care: If you’re in SEO, we recommend you pay attention to how this develops.

In case Google starts rewarding you with quality backlinks from Twitter, you can start using it as a viable domain authority builder. Interesting times…

How to build a profitable email and SMS list

It doesn’t matter how beautiful and engaging your emails are. If the quality of your list is bad… The cha-ching won’t ring.

In a Twitter thread, Danavir Sarria shared multiple steps on how to build a high-quality list that generates sales. Let’s dive in!

Subscribers: The quality of your list depends on the intent of the subscribers.

The highest-intent subscribers are buyers. They have proven intent, and are more likely to engage and buy again. Non-paying subscribers that you generate with pop-ups and lead magnets have a lower intent.

Traffic source: This will influence the quality of your subscribers.

The hierarchy is this one:

  • Customers acquired organically.
  • Customers acquired with ads.
  • Non-customers acquired organically.
  • Non-customers acquired with ads.

Offer: What offer did they subscribe for?

You’ll have two main groups here:

Subscribers who purchased an offer: Among these, people who bought a bundle showed more intent, therefore, they will have a higher lifetime value (LTV). Customize your campaigns to maximize their intent.

Subscribers that submitted through a popup. For non-purchasers, you need to focus on offers that attract prospects deeper in the funnel.

You have three main opinions:

  • Top of the funnel audiences → Tools
  • Middle of the funnel audiences → Quizzes
  • Bottom of the funnel audiences → Deals

Market-message match: You must craft the popup offer based on the intent of the traffic.

  • For instance, you will offer a free tool for a blog post. But a deal offer to people who landed through a Google Shopping search.
  • Visitors who check your website the day before Black Friday are different from those who come to you in the middle of July.

This should give you an idea on how to build a high-quality list. And Danavir gives other advice about how to set up the pop-ups.

The final step is split testing the offers, the design, and timing. And of course, optimize.

Don’t overlook your ‘Book a Demo’ page

Most brands focus so much on their hero pages that they forget to write a good ‘Book a Demo’ page. Which means that most demo pages end up with a sad-looking form and a generic line like “Book a demo today for free!”.

This seriously hurts conversion. As Olly Meakings points out, your demo page is just as important as your landing pages.

Why? Booking a call is a medium to high-friction activity. Even if someone’s interested enough to find your demo page, they still need to be convinced a call is worth their time. And if you don’t convince them, you’re missing out on the people who were most interested in your product.

What should you include on your demo page? The best brands normally use a combination of:

  • Rationale for the call: Why do I need to book a demo?
  • How long it’ll take: Will this take hours?
  • What value they’ll get: What will I learn?
  • Social proof: Does anyone else use this product?

You should do as much objection-handling as you can. And, of course, you should also make it super easy for people to book the actual demo. Some brands even use chatbots to get this feature done, though traditional booking options still work well.

An upgraded demo page can significantly boost your conversion; if you try this out, let us know your results.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

EBAY: New ad formats are coming to eBay? The marketplace aims to “support full-funnel ad strategies” in the future. And the first of the ads – codenamed “Promoted Display” – is set for a late 2022 release.

BUSINESS: According to Meta, we’re entering the “great relationship reset.” If your branding isn’t focused on building – and facilitating – authentic relationships, you may have to rethink your branding strategy in the coming months.

APPLE: Fingerprinting was always a no-go, according to Apple. So will they do anything to sanction it in the future?

YOUTUBE: Google keeps easing their policy? Depending on the country, you may now use YouTube masthead ads to advertise alcohol, prescription drugs, and sports betting. Their cost hasn’t changed, though… unfortunately.

E-COMMERCE: Time to set up your online store in the metaverse. COMEARTH, which claims to be the first e-commerce metaverse platform, wants to become the “Amazon of Web3.” Trying out a t-shirt in the metaverse sounds kinda fun…

Product Drops are coming

When someone says “Twitter,” you probably don’t think of “online shopping” first.

Looks like the platform wants to change that…

Not afraid to try new things: Twitter is testing Product Drops, a new feature that lets followers sign up to get reminded when new products are released.

Beats waiting in line: The feature, although currently available only for iOS users who use Twitter in English, could help you tease product launches and build hype.

Especially since Product Drop posts will have tweet-like engagement features, giving users the ability to like, comment, retweet, and find them via hashtags.

Why we care: Twitter is looking for a perch on e-commerce. And it’s planning to grow its “monetizable user base” by 13 million this quarter.

So if you’re about to release a new product soon, you may want to test the new feature out.

By the way, Twitter isn’t the only one building hype…

Big professional and personal updates

We’re thrilled and delighted to announce… Just kidding, that never gets old.

But seriously, LinkedIn is launching some big changes in the coming weeks.

One dashboard to rule them all: LinkedIn is finally launching a Business Manager.

That means advertisers will be able to manage their teams, ad accounts, Pages, and Business from a centralized platform.

It also will also let them share and update Matched Audience across all ad accounts.

Admin relief: Plus, the Business Manager will also let you manage user access, and download invoices directly from the platform, which could save you time on admin tasks.

Not just business. LinkedIn is also releasing a few updates to personal accounts:

Not bad Linkedin, not bad…

Why we care: If you’ve ever tried to run ads on LinkedIn, you know the current UI is not intuitive. A centralized Business Manager should make running ads on the platform much smoother.

Plus, the feature updates to personal accounts could help business owners that use LinkedIn to promote their work.

Use these features first and you can get that extra edge…

How to optimize your Amazon listings—and make more sales

In 2020, Aftab generated 4,566 sales on Amazon with his mattress business.

Last year he generated 9,453.

The secret to his success? Optimizing his Amazon product listings.

In this post Eli Smith explains how Aftab writes high-conversion listings.

There are three main areas you need to focus on:

1) Keywords. Find out what keywords your customers use to look for your products and what keywords your competitors target.

You’ll have three keywords categories:

  • Primary keywords. These are the most relevant keywords to your product. Add them to the product title and description.
  • Backend keywords. These are built into the product listing, but do not show up in the description.
  • Secondary keywords. These go into your product description.

2) Content for product listing. You want to create content that engages and converts visitors. Here are the content types to focus on:

Product titles. You can follow the Brand + Item + Item Details format to write your product titles. This is where you will include your primary keywords.

Bulleted lists. This is where you highlight your product features. The key, however, is to explain the benefit of each feature, and show how it helps the customer.

Product description: Use all the space allowed, but don’t overwhelm users with too much information.

Images: Use high quality photos of your product. You can also leverage infographics or photos of people using the product.

3) Encourage positive reviews. The secret to getting positive reviews is… Well, having a high-quality product. Yeah… sorry to disappoint. But there are few other things you can do to get more reviews:

  • Use product inserts to encourage customers to leave a review. Also, take the opportunity to plug your social media pages.
  • Build a social media presence and email list so you can contact customers directly and ask them for reviews.
  • Get more attention by enrolling your product into the Amazon Vine program.

There you go! If you need more examples and tips, check out the whole article here.

How to hire great writers

Content business, which means we’ve hired our fair share of writers. Even some of the writers on The Crew have hired their fair share of writers, too.

So we’ve got a wheelbarrow full of tips for finding great writers.

Here are just a few that may come in handy, whether you’re hiring writers for your brand, agency, or newsletter:

  • Forget the resume and focus on writing skill. Writing is one of the few marketing talents that can be judged in less than a minute. Instead of spending time looking over qualifications, read your applicants’ actual work. While a detailed background is good, top-notch writing talent is even better.
  • Find the best writer you know. Ask them to read your applicants’ work. If you’re not confident in your own ability to judge writing, have a great writer you know take a look. They’ll probably be able to make observations you wouldn’t have thought of otherwise.
  • During the interview, ask your candidates who their favorite writers are. Any writer dedicated to their craft will have no problem listing off writers: Old-school writers, internet-famous writers, brands creating great content, and so on. You might be surprised by how many people applying for writing jobs don’t have a good answer to this question.

One final insight: If you’re hiring in English, don’t overlook writers who didn’t learn English as a first language.

There are millions of non-native writers who are leagues ahead of most native speakers—including a few people on The Crew.

Best of luck in your search for great talent—we hope these tips help.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

TIKTOK: A late-night show with… TikTok Ads? The platform’s new “Made for TikTok” season follows the classic talk show format with a host, interviews, and comedy sketches. The goal is to “help advertisers create TikTok-first strategies.” Sounds like Jimmy Kimmel for zoomers.

ADVERTISING: In an effort to protect user privacy, Google is planning to… end ad blockers? In a few months, Chrome will stop supporting its legacy extension program. That could be good news for marketers… if not for privacy extensions.

BUSINESS: Germany isn’t the only country cutting back. UK shoppers are folding their wallets in the biggest spending decline since early 2021. But not all industries are feeling the hit. Fashion and beauty sales rose thanks to the upcoming summer and holidays.

E-COMMERCE: Speaking of the beauty industry… YouTube Shopping introduced Beauty Festival 2022 along with an interesting event—its first ever Shoppable Shorts challenge. Is a new trend emerging?

ANALYTICS: France is dropping the guillotine on Google Analytics use—either comply with new laws, or face the consequences. Companies have already started getting formal notices that any “illegal” use of the tool may lead to shut downs and financial penalties. Ouch.

There’s a cool new feature in Google Meet.

You can now pin up to three items on the screen. This was actually an accessibility feature for folks who needed to simultaneously see both the presenter’s screen, as well as a sign language interpreter’s screen. Super handy.

Enjoy it while you have it.

The TweetDeck Mac app will go away on July 1.

Australia’s ABC is cutting 58 librarian and archivist jobs.

Instead it wants its reporters and producers to do their own research for library content. The sound libraries will also no longer add new commercial music — show producers will have to acquire music themselves.

The BBC will cut up to 1,000 jobs in the “next few years” as it transforms itself into a digital-first public service organisation.

In particular, it will invest “significant amounts of money” into new programs on iPlayer, which it hopes will attract third-party investments.

The AP Stylebook now includes a chapter on inclusive reporting.

There’s now guidance to capitalise Deaf when referring to Deaf culture and Deaf community. It also says journalists need to be specific when describing incidents of terrorism and to only attribute the term to authorities, unless referring to historical events widely acknowledged as examples of terrorism.

One month into his job as the boss of CNN, Chris Licht is making some big changes to the network.

For one, that ubiquitous in-your-face “Breaking News” banner is gone and reserved for truly earth-shattering events. And the shows are even bringing on more conservative voices. “At a time where extremes are dominating cable news, we will seek to go a different way.”

The Economist is wondering if it should start paywalling its podcasts.

Monthly listeners are now more than double the magazine’s print subscriber base. “The podcast is quite self-consciously highbrow. We don’t sort of think… let’s dumb it down for broadcast.”

“We are not an email company,” says Morning Brew CEO Austin Rief.

“We think a lot about what we call ourselves. Media company? Consumer company? We’re just a company that creates great content, engages our audience and tries to make money doing it.” The Brew is now looking toward individual creators and figuring out how to create infrastructure to support their work.

Twitter reportedly agreed to give Elon Musk access to the company’s data.

The board hopes this could finally end a standoff with Musk who’s threatening to walk away from his deal to buy the company if he can’t figure out how much of Twitter’s traffic is actually driven by bots.

Meta launched Crayta — a Roblox-like competitor it acquired a year ago — on Facebook Gaming’s cloud service.

It feels like Roblox but looks a lot like Fortnite. Perhaps the best thing about Crayta is that it doesn’t require a VR headset, unlike Meta’s Horizon Worlds, and it works on cheaper devices.

Substack reportedly decided to stop its fundraising efforts as the market enters a downturn.

The company made $9 million in revenue in 2021 — but astonishingly was trying to raise money at a 100x valuation. As Sequoia and other VCs have warned recently, investor appetite has waned as a recession creeps in. Definitely not the time to raise money.

Bilibili, which hasn’t made a profit since it listed in 2018, is starting to lay off employees.

Some 20% of jobs will be lost.

BuzzFeed’s stock plummeted 41% on Monday after executives and major institutional investors were allowed to sell their shares following the company’s IPO in December.

BuzzFeed’s market cap has now lost more than three-quarters of its value since its debut and clearly not even its investors believe in it.

Remember Clubhouse?

The once super hot audio app, valued at $4 billion at its peak, is moving away from categories like news and sports. So it’s started to lay off employees.

Things are so bad at Netflix that there’s now a term for it: The Netflix Chill.

After years of giving people a buffet of video content, prices have gone up and now consumers are deciding there are better options elsewhere. But is this a Netflix problem, or a misguided rush into streaming services by the entire industry?

Amazon ads going local, Google launches new version of API

Is it ever dull in the advertising world?

Doesn’t seem like it.

And today we bring you updates from the two industry heavyweights.

Is Amazon forming a Local Ads division? Yes, according to reports. The tech giant published a few job openings for a “new Local Ads team”… implying that they’re looking to provide more support to local businesses with effective advertising.

Makes sense, as current Amazon sponsored search ads benefit bigger companies and your favorite mom-and-pop shop can’t afford them.

Either way, local Facebook and Google ads are now getting a formidable competitor.

…and speaking of Google: The company announced a new version of their Google Ads API which includes updates to numerous client codes.

If you want to use the new API, you must upgrade your client libraries and code. The updated example list should be published next week.

Plus, financial scam ads are downtrending: Making Google expand their financial service verification policy to three more countries: Australia, Singapore, and Taiwan.

Now if you want to run financial ads in these markets, you can do so without fear as long as you get verified.

And while we’re mentioning finances…

Can you raise prices without rattling the cage?

When prices go up, the anger-o-meter and panic-o-meter usually follow.

But when the inflation is on a steady rise and costs of goods and services all skyrocket, you can either follow along or call it a day.

So can you raise your prices without a customer backlash? According to reports, it depends on the industry.

Walking on eggshells: Businesses where low price drives customer satisfaction such as consumer durables, apparel, software, tech, can expect some disgruntled customers if they raise their prices.

On the other hand, industries where there’s a higher brand loyalty like automotive, household, and personal products tend to not feel the same heat.

There’s one constant, though. Companies with high customer satisfaction always have an easier time when the time comes to raise the price.

Why we care: If you’re running a business, you’re probably already faced with the Hamletian dilemma – to raise or not to raise.

But it looks like the only real question is – have you built enough loyalty and reputation?

Because if you did, your customers are much more likely to accept the change, regardless of the industry.

How subscription and SaaS companies can thrive during a tough economy

Twitter user Patticus analyzed 23.2k subscription and SaaS companies to get a glance at how the economy’s red flags are impacting their revenue.

In short, he found out that while the new sales are consistent, and in some cases growing, the churn-up rates and downgrades are getting higher.

And he revealed some practical actions to take to get ready for an eventual market contraction.

There are two main actions to take: survival and lifetime value (LTV).

Let’s start with survival:

  • Audit all your expenses: You might be paying for things you’re not using. Cut that cost.
  • Make sure you’re “default alive” and have at least 10% margin for error if bootstrapped, and 18+ months of burn-rate if VC-funded. “Default alive” means you don’t spend more than you make, so you are breakeven or profitable.
  • Re-evaluate non-core projects.

Now regarding LTV… There are two main areas: monetization and retention.

For monetization, the actions to take are:

  • Focus on cross-sell: Happy customers consistently buy more during recessions. If you don’t have cross-sells, create an add-on, like priority support.
  • Evaluate customer segments. Segments affected more by a market contraction are less likely to buy so you can pull that ad spend.
  • Reduce discounts.

For retention:

  • Fix credit card failures to boost your recovery rate.
  • Implement cancellation flows to customers that unsubscribe. You can do it with salvage offers or maintenance plans.
  • Run promotions to get monthly customers on quarterly and yearly subscriptions.
  • Create reactivation campaigns set for 60, 120, and 180 days after a customer cancels the subscription.

Whether you think there will be a recession or not, some of these actions are still useful to boost revenue and cut costs. Hence, something to consider at any time.

Cognitive biases that can affect your marketing

Cognitive biases are a hot topic these days. And while they’re not all applicable to this newsletter, we want to highlight a few common mental errors that could affect your own marketing––and how to recognize them.

Here are the biggest ones:

  • Dunning-Kruger effect: This is the phenomenon where you think you know more than you do. And, ironically, it’s because you actually know very little. In marketing, this often happens when we assume we know a lot about specialized topics, like SEO or copywriting.

The solution? When you can, let specialists dominate their own area. Don’t micro-manage.

  • Fundamental Attribution Error: When other people make mistakes, we often attribute their mistakes to their character. When we make mistakes, we attribute our mistakes to our situation. In marketing, this is a dangerous road––you can make excuses for yourself while thinking poorly of others.

The solution? Every time somebody makes a mistake, try to put it in context the same way you’d do for yourself.

Anchoring Bias: Most people place lots of weight on the first piece of information they learn about a topic, whether that is credible information or not. Imagine that a friend teaches you how to set up TikTok Ads: Even if your friend is bad at running ads, you’ll give their initial advice more weight than advice you hear down the road.

The solution? Acknowledge that you’re likely putting more stock in certain pieces of advice than others, and that your reasons for doing so may be bad. Use this to analyze your decision-making going forward.

The Crew’s take: We’ve written this to help you understand a few of your own biases. But, it’s also helpful to understand that your customers will have these biases, too. Think about how you might be able to use these to your advantage as you market your products.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

TIKTOK: Don’t be surprised if you soon get hit by suspiciously accurate TikTok Ads. The company will now rely on “legitimate interest instead of users’ consent” to display ads, meaning you might see ads based on your in-app activity. Yes, even if you opted-out first.

ADVERTISING: Privacy regulations, increased competition… All this is making advertising harder, according to 55% of surveyed mobile marketers. But there’s still plenty of optimism that things will get back on track. Fingers crossed!

FACEBOOK: Less and less people are scrolling Facebook nowadays. And experts estimate that the time spent on the platform will keep decreasing in the next couple of years… Time to do something about it, Meta.

GOOGLE: No more SERP shake-ups…for now. Google’s May broad core update rollout is officially finished. If you experienced traffic volatility and ranking performance, you can breathe a sigh of relief. Until the next core update.

Why hybrid is the future of events

Pandemic lockdowns meant all major marketing events became digital. As things open up though, the people behind event management are focussing on hybrid events and enjoying the best of both worlds.

Hybrid event barriers

When it comes to hybrid events, many B2B marketers have a few concerns. In a survey last year, 49% of respondents weren’t sure how to make both the physical and digital experience equally engaging, while 42% were worried about the logistics of hybrid events. What they weren’t worried about was getting management buy in with just 15% thinking that could be an issue. It looks like practice will make perfect when it comes to hybrid events.

Perceived barriers to success of hybrid events according to business-to-business (B2B) marketers worldwide as of May 2021

Depp-Heard content creation

Even if you managed to avoid news coverage of the Johnny Depp and Amber Heard trial, you probably weren’t able to avoid the memes. Influencers on YouTube, Twitch, Instagram, Twitter and more had a field day offering analyses, videos and jokes. One influencer made US$5,000 in a week just with content centred around the trial. With much of this content pro-Depp, we saw an example of influencers moving beyond marketing and defining the main news narrative.

Heineken shuts down work apps

We realise it’s a joke but Heineken has developed the world’s most useful bottle opener. Dubbed the Closer, not only does it open a beer, but it uses bluetooth technology to put nearby laptops into sleep mode. It’s not clear whether the Closer can actually put a laptop to sleep, but it does address the work-life imbalance many employees are experiencing. Whether alcoholism is the way to address this imbalance is another discussion entirely though.

Interesting Marketing Video and Report

Spike Lee bridges the age divide through major sporting events and achievements.

Multimedia instant messaging app, Snapchat, tries to reverse some of the political damage caused by social media.

See how one chip went from old school gaming to AI.

New channels from Apple and Microsoft

Cookies and cream, burgers and beer… Good things come in twos.

And marketers have two new ways to get customers…

Apple’s planning push notifications for iOS 16: Looks like Apple will finally introduce push notifications on Safari and other supported browsers.

This means you’ll be able to notify Apple users on new offers, promos, and more via opt-in web alerts.

Microsoft launched Video Ads: The company announced Video Ads format among a number of other updates.

… Oh, there’s a third thing: Microsoft also upgraded Audience ads, letting you add more images, headlines, and descriptions while you let the algorithm mix and match your assets for the best results.

Why we care: As privacy regulations kick in, acquiring new customers is getting more challenging.

Keeping tabs on new advertising channels can help you improve your acquisition efforts.

And while we’re on the subject of acquisition…

Mobile marketers prefer Google and Meta

According to the State of User Acquisition 2022 report, Google and Meta platforms are the prom king and queen when it comes to mobile user acquisition.

Backed by popular demand: The report surveyed mobile marketers working in a wide range of different industries, including e-commerce, fintech, lifestyle, and more.

Here’s what they found:

  • Facebook was still the primary advertising source in 2021, despite the Apple privacy updates. Google came second.
  • However, Google performed the best during Q4 holiday campaigns, followed by Facebook.
  • Facebook and Google were reportedly tied for benefiting the most from budget shifts made after iOS14.5, implying the platforms adapted well to Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy.

Third-wheeling it: Apple Search Ads outperformed all social platforms and was only behind the big two, especially when it comes to holiday campaigns.

Also, other reports are saying that iOS opt-in rates are much higher than expected so far… So don’t leave out the Apple users.

… And the wallflowers: TikTok and Snapchat are the best-looking of the remaining top platforms, with 41% users claiming they’ve used the platforms for their acquisition efforts. 26% said Twitter, while only 13% said Reddit.

And who knows… Snapchat might’ve done even better if they had published their best practices a year earlier.

Why we care: If there was any industry that suffered after ATT implementation, it was mobile.

So if mobile advertisers found these channels useful, it means that they’ve adapted to the “new advertising normal.”

Might be wise to follow in their footsteps.

3 types of podcast and event guest speakers that drive awareness, build credibility and generate sales

You don’t need popular guests to have a great podcast.

As Amanda Natividad points out in this Twitter thread, there are three types of podcast guests that, while not famous, can lead to valuable shows.

Plus they can save you from big fees, make your audience happy… And get sales in the process.

Let’s meet them:

Innovator: This type of guest is perfect for driving brand awareness.

Whether it’s a founder or a thought leader in your niche, hosting an industry innovator raises the profile of your show.

Moreover, your audience probably already knows the industry innovators, so it’s a chance to drive listeners down your funnel and turn them into customers or clients.

Narrative partner: This guest helps you build credibility.

This is a speaker who can frame a story you’re trying to sell, someone whose story aligns with you and your audience.

Usually they’re someone who’s a few steps ahead in your listeners’ journey.

Your happiest customers: Most podcast guests will give value to your audience. But not all of them will convey the value of your product.

When Amanda led the editorial strategy for Fitbit’s B2B event, she insisted on having an RTA (Regional Transit Authority) speak on the main stage.

RTA is made up of bus drivers who used Fitbit to lose weight and become active, eventually helping RTA save $2.3M in healthcare costs.

That case study was cited for years, despite RSA not being a well known business.

The main takeaway: Don’t get stuck on booking stars or your podcast. Instead, focus on the story they can tell.

How to get better creative and copy for your ads

It’s easy to get complacent with your team’s work—especially if they’re doing an OK job.

But if you always rely on one agency, one team, or one person, whether it’s for visual creative or copywriting, you might be missing out on extraordinary work.

So instead, mix things up.

Challenge your current creative team by bringing in outside work.

Barry Hott, a long-time marketer, shared this sentiment recently on Twitter as well.

The Crew’s insight: If you have an in-house team or person doing creative work, challenge them by hiring an outside agency to make something similar, and vice versa.

You can even challenge your in-house teams and agencies by creating something on your own.

We don’t believe it’s disrespectful to open the floor up for more opinions. It’s often what generates the best work.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

REDDIT: Celebrate those wins. Reddit is launching a series of videos and case studies to share the stories of businesses who used their platform to grow. Not a bad way to win new customers.

INSTAGRAM: You know how you can pin tweets to Twitter profiles? Looks like you can now pin posts and Reels at the top of Instagram profiles, too. Time to make some first impressions…

AMAZON: Since last week, Matched target reporting is available for Sponsored Display vendors. Amazon says this should help you “break down ad performance based on specific product detail pages your ads appeared on within a specific category.” Nice!

E-COMMERCE: Did someone say crisis? Because it looks like travel brands ain’t feeling it this summer. They’re actually spending more on inventory and brand building—like opening new stores and investing in marketing. Great industry to be in!

TWITTER: Second thoughts. Elon Musk is considering backing down from his Twitter takeover due to a reportedly high number of fake user profiles. Twitter continues denying the fake profile claims, so both sides are currently in a Western-style standoff.

E-COMMERCE: Tasty news for the food industry. Uber Eats is launching a nationwide shipping service that lets you order food from several US cities including Miami, Los Angeles, and New York.

PumaPodcast just dropped a new show about work with CEO Carl Javier in a starring role

It’s called The Imaginable Workplace, and I’m looking forward to giving it a listen. But what I’m really excited about is the cover art by Trix Casillan, which I think is utterly GORGEOUS.

One of the most important factors in whether or not someone decides to hit play on your show

According to this fine Twitter threadist, it’s all about the “alignment between your cover art, podcast description, and first 30 seconds of each episode. Do they match in tone, style, and overall vibe?” So true. It’s like if you were to publish a story: if your image, headline, and first para aren’t playing nice together, your reader is probably going to move on pretty quickly. Tone, style, and vibe, my friend: get it right.

FT’s How to Spend It magazine is rebranding, and the new thing is called HTSI

They’re feeling a little self-conscious, they’re reading the room, and they’re saying Maybe 2022 isn’t the time for public displays of ostentation. Maybe they’re right, but they’re overthinking it. The stuff in there has always been way beyond the means of anybody except the 17 people in the world who can afford to be insensitive to wealth porn. I mean, HTSI once claimed that one in five of its readers either had — or would consider using — a private jet. And for all the branding the FT could afford, is HTSI the best they could do? (The idea is that they are offering “new interpretations of the ‘s’”.) “The How To Spend It name was created in 1967, when the FT’s first female employee suggested the wives of its readers might enjoy a section on how to spend their husband’s income.”

The Everything in Moderation newsletter has rebranded

I like how Ben Whitelaw has been productising his moderation newsletter so well that it is now a brand in its own right. EiM now boasts “a new logo, easier-to-read newsletter font (something several of you asked for), clearer headings and even a new visual language to tie everything together. Plus no more emojis.” Nicely done! (I can’t wait for EiM to start testing their community needs on other fronts: Event in Moderation (events and workshops), Experts in Moderation (a list of the moderati, if you will), Excellence in Moderation (the awards), and more. I’m not even kidding.)

Instagram has a new typeface

What’s up with vanity typefaces? This one is called… Instagram Sans. I’ll say this for it, though: it has character. And characters. The typeface uses the Instagram logo squircle as inspiration, and was “made to feel human”, with a quirky “Q” typeface and the “interior teardrop of the ‘a’ typeface.”

Turkey (the country) has rebranded as Türkiye so as to distinguish itself from the turkey (the bird)

The United Nations, who arguably is the boss of the branding requirements of all countries, “recognised the Turkish government’s request to rebrand the nation’s name last December 2021”, so that’s covered. You know you’re premium when you have an umlaut in your name. It’s pronounced “tur-key-YAY”, which adds a flavour of millennial ebullience to the whole thing. Also there’s no SEO collision with a pretty silly-looking bird. And then there’s always iffy Erdogan: “”The name change may seem silly to some but it puts Erdogan in the role of protector, of safeguarding international respect for the country.”

Any business that asks its customers about what their needs are understands that people hire products to do a job for them

I love the whole jobs-to-be-done thing. So ask that podcast you’re putting out there: What job is it doing for the audience? What job does it do for clients? What job does it do for the business? And what job does it do for the brand? Brian Morrissey does a fine job in here as he breaks down the JTBD for websites, podcasts, newsletters, events, and magazines. The best part of the process? It tells you a lot about your business that you don’t necessarily know.

Should we be worried for Twitter’s Spaces and newsletter biz?

“Twitter executives have told employees to scale back resources for its live audio feature Spaces, newsletters and communities, instead telling workers to focus on user growth and personalisation efforts.” And is it really all because of Musk, who, according to one employee, “puts the douche in fiduciary”? I do hope the newsletters aren’t going anywhere — I love their seamless integration with the Twitter profile screens.

Is interactivity in news media overrated? Should users be allowed to find their own insights?

Or should we be subjected to clicking and hovering through All the Animated Visualisations? We’ve all been there. But thankfully, there’s a sensible, no-nonsense alternative: keep it simple. Here’s a great thread in favour of…you might need to sit down for this…static charts and tables.

Is your About page even about you?

The number of About us pages on the web without a single name or face of anybody who works there is alarming. A nameless, faceless organisation doesn’t lack just identity, it lacks credibility.

This woman sends goodnight texts to lonely folks

She’s sent over 30,000 so far, and charges them $0.15 each. “[H]er customers include cancer patients, children from single-parent households and “LGBTQ people who are misunderstood by their families.”

Hearing that Walmart is doing a music festival is like finding out that my dentist is a trapeze artist

But it’s true. The younger, hipper Waltons (from the family that own the gargantuan biz) are putting the W in Woodstock by doing a destination music and art fest in their hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas called FORMAT, which stands for For Music + Art + Technology. “Performances will include bands such as Rüfüs Du Sol, Phoenix, The Flaming Lips and The War on Drugs alongside art performances and immersive pieces by visual artists, including Nick Cave, Pia Camil and Jacolby Satterwhite.”

How To Pay Influencers

Brands explore whether or not to pay influencers in products alone.

Product Or Cash?

When it comes to compensating influencers for their sponsored content, a mix of product and cash rewards has long been the gold standard. However, some brands are working around budget constraints by rewarding influencers with free products – and nothing more.

Platforms Keep It Up

The question of compensation has been an ongoing contentious point within this space, one that has generated a lot of buzz over the years. While brand perspective is its own animal, the platforms continue to innovate the process of compensating creators via creator funds and tips. Twitter has launched a new “Twitter Create” mini-site to act as a resource for creators looking to maximize – and monetize – their Twitter presence. On the same note, TikTok has debuted a new LIVE Subscription option where users subscribe to their favorite creators, and creators are then compensated in return.

While a brand may see high ROI from a product-only technique, creators are pushing back at the assumption that they will be willing to produce content in exchange for products alone. In fact, it’s worth noting that this method may actually alienate creators from working with a brand. We always recommend a mix of cash and product – and if you can only pick one, offering cash payment is the best route. That said, asking creators their preference – and respecting their choice – is always the way to go.

Virtual Influencers In The Metaverse

Digitally-designed meta people are now getting more brand deals.

Them’s The Benefits

With an estimated 150 virtual influencers on social media today, the creator economy is facing a conundrum: will these virtual people replace real influencers? With endless creative opportunities, total brand control, potential cost savings, and a path to the metaverse embedded in their very concept, many brands like Prada and more are testing partnerships with virtual influencers.

And there are many virtual creators gaining massive popularity, such as Brazil’s Lil Miquela or the first virtual influencer with Down Syndrome, Kami.

The Real Real

So, the elephant in the room: has computer science gone too far? This advanced technology could threaten creators, especially if brands prefer the virtual price tag. With creator monetization constantly in flux, new players who are entering the chat and offering the same experience for less may force human creators to adjust their strategies.

With the metaverse gaining traction, and Web3 emphasizing deep audience connection, a lack of actual humanity could count against virtual influencers. Brand partnerships may go back and forth over time, and more brands you know may go the virtual influencer route, but they can’t replace a real person. Or can they?

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Inclusive initiatives from brands and platforms alike put an emphasis on accessibility.

Accessible To All

Platforms are pledging to prioritize accessibility for all. Instagram and Twitch have unveiled improvements to their content representation. Instagram’s new brand identity focuses on legibility and easy-to-read typefaces, while Twitch is taking audio-free options and closed captioning to the next level.

The Instagram community was placed at the forefront of its new layouts, with full-bleed imagery of real people

Pride In Our Differences

Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube are also launching new initiatives in honor of Pride Month – with the reminder that LGBTQPIA+ folks should be celebrated all year long. And at Amazon, employees have used their voices to protest the company’s decision to sell products that activists say promote hate speech against transgender people.

Facebook, TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube are also launching new initiatives in honor of Pride Month – with the reminder that LGBTQPIA+ folks should be celebrated all year long.

We’re reminded that Pride Month is a celebration that shouldn’t end once June is over. Initiatives that support LGBTQPIA+ individuals should be a cornerstone, year-long strategy — as should methods that support accessibility, legibility, and more. There’s so much more we need to do, but the progress we’ve seen when it comes to supporting DEI has only been possible through being bold, speaking up, and taking action. Here are more ways to incorporate DEI practices into your brand marketing strategies.

Set your ad creative on autopilot… if you dare

Do you trust Google’s algorithm enough to let it choose your creative assets?

Because their new beta feature is happy to help.

What’s going on: The “Automatically created assets” feature uses machine learning to generate headlines, descriptions, and other assets based on content from your website, landing page, keywords and existing ads.

If you enable the feature, just keep an eye on your ads to confirm they’re accurate.

Why we care: Testing automated creatives is just another step in Google’s efforts to make their advertising process fully automated.

It’s almost to the point where you can put ads on autopilot and focus on optimizing your content and creative assets instead…

Buy now, pay later comes to Apple

People love splitting things: restaurant checks, Netflix accounts…

And of course, payments.

Now Apple’s doing splits: The company announced the release of their own Buy now, pay later (BNPL) platform at the Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC).

It’s called Apple Pay Later, and it’s available in the US wherever you find Apple Pay.

No action needed: Apple says there’s no work needed from the developer or merchant side, since payments can be managed through the Apple Wallet app.

Additionally, Apple released Apple Pay Order Tracking, which sends receipts and tracks orders in the Wallet app. It’s already integrated with Shopify.

Why we care: BNPL can significantly increase your conversion rate, so now’s a good time to notify your iOS customers.

For example, you might send customers a pop-up notification or display the feature as a payment option if they’re visiting from an iOS device.

Probably won’t be long before we see custom extensions for Apple Pay Later on Shopify and other platforms…

Why you should think of your ad creative like a language

As advertising platforms lose targeting power, they’re relying more on your ads to find the right audience.

That’s why Alexa Kilroy says that you should treat your ads like a language.

Here’s the gist:

The visuals and copy of your ad are speaking to your prospective customers.

But if customers don’t understand your “language”—your ad—they ignore you.

Poor engagement tells the advertising platform that your target customer isn’t your target customer. They assume that if users don’t respond to your ad, they aren’t the people you’re looking for.

So Alexa suggests taking three steps to understand and speak your customers’ language:

  1. Visualize your consumer. Look at the data, and identify their demographics and psychographics. Who they are, where they live, what content they consume, and what they buy. And even whether or not they have a cat or a dog.
  2. Visualize your consumer’s environment. Imagine your customer using your product. Do they use it in the kitchen? In the living room? Do they have a lavish house? What country do they live in?
  3. Model your messaging. Where are people asking questions about products like yours? Facebook, Reddit, forums? What are people saying in your reviews? How do they describe the problem they need to solve?

Once you get all this information, model your message and design accordingly.

Your visuals and copy should reflect all three of these steps.

So the next time they see your ad, they can’t ignore it… Because it’s speaking their language.

How to spot bad marketing experiments

When marketers and agencies experiment with a new platform or run A/B tests, they love to share their insights.

And hey, we love a good experiment as much as the next marketer.

But most marketers aren’t statisticians… so they often craft case studies that are full of statistical errors.

Why this matters: Many studies are often not representative of marketing as a whole. And taking bad experiments to heart could hurt your own marketing.

So the next time you come across an experiment or case study…

Here’s how to spot bad marketing experiments:

  • The study was conducted with a small or unspecified budget. We recently read a study that ran on a budget less than $400. On many platforms, this simply isn’t enough to provide representative results. The margin of error is just too big.
  • Too many variables were being tested at once. There are lots of variables that go into marketing. And if a study doesn’t explicitly control for all of them except for the one they’re testing, you should be wary of the data.
  • Data being presented as objective, broad insights. Any good experiment will recognize that, although the data may be useful, it’s not the end-all be-all for the industry. If you ever see someone presenting their data as the objective, final truth, you should be cautious.

Don’t get us wrong… We encourage all marketers to share as much data as possible. That’s how we all get better at this thing!

But you know the classic adage: Don’t believe everything you read on the internet.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

LINKEDIN: Turns out inspirational quotes and success stories aren’t the most effective LinkedIn post types. Videos and native documents are all the rage. Is it time to create new lead magnets and video ad campaigns?

LinkedIn Content Study

GOOGLE: Want to have a say in the future of Attribution Reporting? Google is inviting interested developers to participate and experiment in an origin trial. Could be fun if you’re into aggregate reports and APIs.

ADVERTISING: TV ad breaks are fading away… and “integrated ad experiences” on connected television (CTV) may replace them. It seems targeted product placements and in-show formats are coming to your audience’s favorite shows. Wild times.

Google Launches Dynamic Lookbacks in Analytics Audiences

This means more data to analyze and more time to adjust based on the activity (or lack thereof) of your audience. So now, when you build an audience, you can use event values prompted within the last 2 months to include OR exclude users. This means you can either create an audience of users who have bought your product recently, or exclude them if they haven’t bought anything for over a month. Lookbacks also give you insight into your audience who haven’t engaged in your product in awhile and well, actually do something about it.

Snap Targets Potential Travelers

That’s right. Snap’s Dynamic Travel Ads have officially taken over. Their new ad format is going to help marketers and advertisers drive conversions to all thing travel. Think: hotels, tours, airlines, travel apps, and more all based on user’s travel intent and locality. So, if you’re in the business of travel, it’s good to stay on top of these ad platform updates so you can place your marketing channels and strategies accordingly.

BeReal, The New App on the Rise

With TikTok having so much success and buzz around the app lately, I have a hard time imagining another new app coming in and stealing the spotlight. I first heard about BeReal at Coachella a month ago. My friends from San Francisco couldn’t stop talking about BeReal, a new photo-sharing app that notifies users to capture an unedited photo of the moment, regardless of where they are or what they’re doing. I know, the last thing you want to do is try and figure out another new app. But….BeReal’s numbers are really starting to take off. It has 10.7M global installs to date. Just this week, it was among the top 20 free apps on iOS. Sure, there are no ads on the platform….yet. But that will change soon and in the meantime, it’s definitely worth following the app’s growth over the next few months.

Will this new ad type tackle privacy issues?

Seems Meta is getting back to the basics.

Facebook is developing “Basic Ads” to help battle ongoing privacy concerns.

It’s pretty basic: Instead of relying on personal data, the new ad type will be measured by simple metrics like engagement and video views.

So the reach of your ad—and its performance—would depend on how engaging it is.

While this could improve overall brand exposure, it would obviously lack the powerful targeting features of other ad types.

Why we care: As companies adapt to working with less data, digital advertising could become more… limited.

Which means creativity will once again be among the most important assets a marketing team can have.

And TikTok seems to agree…

Now you can see the best performing content on the platform

Say goodbye to creative block… On TikTok, at least.

The popular platform just announced Trend Discovery as a part of their Creative Center. It’s a feature that gives you insight into the most engaging posts on the platform.

What’s making users Tik: The feature helps creators and brands access the best performing hashtags, songs, creators, and TikTok videos in a single place.

You can also further segment each category. For example, you could segment hashtags based on industry, creators based on region or number of followers, and more.

Why we care: Having accurate data on what’s trending on the platform and seeing examples all in one place can help you come up with more engaging content.

And going by recent moves in the advertising space, it seems engaging content will be the next money machine.

How to unlock new audiences and boost your SEO ranking with synonyms

Remember synonyms?

The last time you heard about them was probably in your third-grade grammar class.

In case you need a refresher: A synonym is a word that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase.

And believe it or not… synonyms can help you get more clicks and sales.

Why? Because when you talk about your product in different ways, you attract more users.

For example, users might search for a webcam with terms like “streaming camera,” “e-meeting camera,” or “Zoom camera.”

Same goes for chatbots. Users might search for them using terms like “conversational AI chatbot,” “customer support automation,” “omnichannel engagement platform,” and so on.

Same product. Different use cases.

And as Adriana Stein explains in this blog post, by finding and targeting new product synonyms, you can unlock new selling angles for your products.

For your SEO strategy, this means that you can target more relevant keywords to improve your rankings.

It’s a powerful way to expand brand awareness while compounding hundreds of thousands of monthly searches from different keywords.

Adriana suggests a six-step process for finding product synonyms:

  1. Understand the different use cases for your product.
  2. Benchmark your competitors.
  3. Study the language of your audience.
  4. Review “People Also Ask” and related searches.
  5. Research keywords.
  6. Differentiate keyword placement basement on your site structure.

Follow this process if you want to target new audiences and raise your search engine results page position. And if you want more details, check out Adriana’s blog post.

How we write sponsor copy for this newsletter

You know when you’re listening to a podcast you love and the host pauses the show to say, “And now, a message from our sponsor”…

… And you tune out for the next 30 seconds because they’re reading from a boring, corporate-sounding script?

Yeah. That sort of copy doesn’t work very well.

Which is why we want to talk about how we write sponsor copy for this newsletter, why it keeps sponsors coming back for more, and how you can apply the takeaways to your own copy.

Our process is fairly simple:

  • We have a briefing form. It’s easy for sponsors to fill out, and the information-gathering process is the same for everyone, which means we’re always writing copy based on the same structure of information. This reduces friction.
  • The person who writes the copy is also a newsletter writer. This is key. In order to keep you interested, our sponsor copy needs to feel like part of the newsletter. Our writer is skilled at writing both content and copy based on our persona and tone, so the sponsored sections feel natural and helpful.

The Crew’s Insight: When you write promotional copy—whether it’s in your blog posts, for a newsletter of your own, or in your ads—you never want it to feel like ad copy.

Two ways to make your copy feel natural:

  • Write in the same style and tone as the source. If it’s a newsletter, adopt the newsletter’s tone. If it’s a podcast, adopt the tone of the host.
  • Instead of writing to sell, write to inform… then close with a strong call-to-action (CTA). If it’s helpful, focus on the context your copy will appear in and write for that context, instead of focusing on what your copy needs to accomplish.

Practice this enough, and you’ll describe products and services so well that people can’t help but be interested.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

GOOGLE: Just in time for the travel season. It’s now easier for hotels to connect information to their Business Profile, add booking rates, and run ads. Also, hotel advertisers can promote their properties across all channels with Performance Max campaigns.

BUSINESS: European markets are feeling the inflation. Nearly half of Germans can no longer afford their lifestyles and are slowing down on spending. If you’re selling non-essential products in the region, you may notice a slight downturn in sales.

E-COMMERCE: Wowza. Online commerce search ad spending keeps rising… It’s estimated to reach almost $56 billion by 2026. If forecasts are true, it will account for 20% of the entire US digital ad market.

GOOGLE: If you have a brand loyalty program, you’ll be able to showcase it using Google Shopping ads soon. According to Google, loyalty programs will be easy to integrate to Merchant Center and easy to promote with Performance Max campaigns.

PINTEREST: Hyper-personalized shopping feeds are coming. The company just acquired THE YES, a shopping platform that customizes users’ feeds with human expertise and machine learning. Seems like a great fit.

Google wants to help you adapt to automated ads while it adapts to a cookieless reality

When it rains Google updates, it pours.

So put on your poncho, it’s about to get wet…

Items and conditions: Automatic updates for item condition roll out on June 26. This change should help you keep products up to date without having to manually update each item.

But make sure you have the correct condition attribute set, or Google won’t approve your items.

Automation troubles: Having trouble with all the recent automations? Two official Google Ads guides just dropped to help you understand how everything works.

One guide is for search automation, the other is for keyword matching.

Analytics: The cookieless era is coming and Analytics is adapting. Google announced behavioral modeling for consent mode.

The feature will combine the data from users that opted-in with other “cookieless” data to make total user data estimations.

Will be interesting to see how accurate these estimations are…

Event tracking: Google also clarified that measurement protocol isn’t meant for full server-to-server events, but for expanding existing events collected via Google Tag Manager (GTM), gtag, or Firebase.

Whew, that’s it, we’re done with the Google updates. You can take off that poncho now.

Cannabis is getting meta

Cannabis retailers seem to be finding their place in the “decentralized version of the web.”

What’s going on: Cannabis retailers are renting or acquiring property in various metaverse platforms to promote their CBD brands.

The virtual stores can’t actually sell products or merchandise, but they do offer ways to drive website traffic.

For example, one store has a mock cash register that takes you to their online shop when you interact with it.

Accepted in decentraland: Of course, the main reason cannabis brands are opting for the metaverse is they’re prohibited from promoting products on major advertising platforms.

And while some stores get more than 1,000 daily visitors, it’s still too early to know whether they drive qualified traffic or conversions.

Why we care: If the nature of your industry makes it hard to advertise on traditional platforms, there’s an entire virtual world available to try.

And if you’re just looking for a cutting edge marketing channel, it’s always smart to follow in the ad footprints of “controversial” industries.

Shopify’s Lookalike Audiences: Yay or nay?

About a month ago, Shopify launched Lookalike Audiences for Shopify Plus users.

By now, we have an idea of their effectiveness, thanks to a few marketers who have been using the feature.

But first, a quick recap…

What are Shopify Lookalike Audiences?

Here’s Karan Jassan’s simple explanation:

All participating Shopify merchants contribute their existing customer data into a shared data pool.

Shopify analyzes this customer data, then allows merchants to create a Lookalike Audience that matches the product they want to promote.

Then you upload this lookalike audience to Facebook and run your campaign.

So… Do Shopify Lookalike Audiences work?

That’s what Cody Plofker asked on Twitter.

Here’s the general takeaway:

  • The size of Shopify Lookalike Audiences is in the 1–2M users range. This means that if you have a medium–high daily budget, you’ll saturate the audience quickly and there won’t be enough room to scale.
  • The feature would probably benefit small stores with a tiny daily spend. Unfortunately it’s reserved for enterprise plans, so small shops might not be able to get access.

Karan Jassan wrote a whole blog post about his experience with Shopify Lookalike Audiences. Here are some of his takeaways:

  • The feature will likely get better with time as more merchants contribute data and the Shopify machine learning process improves.
  • The quality of a lookalike audience depends on the value of the custom audience, hence, the buyers’ data. However, since the buyers in your Shopify Lookalike Audience didn’t purchase from you, you can’t assign these people a value specific to your business.

The conclusion? Shopify Lookalike Audiences aren’t delivering the results advertisers were hoping for… yet. But it might be too early to say.

Marketing is changing: 3 exciting new ad formats to replace dying tactics

All marketing follows the law of shi**y clickthroughs.

In other words, over time, marketing channels that used to be fresh and exciting lose their novelty and get the same poor clickthrough rates that turned off marketers from the last “big thing.”

This is happening before our very eyes: Facebook Ads are becoming less effective, email open rates are declining, and traditional success is getting difficult to maintain.

But there’s good news: We did 100+ hours of research last month for a report on up-and-coming growth channels. In that report, there’s a section on the hottest new ad formats.

Here are our favorites:

  • YouTube audio ads: A feature launched back in 2020 (and still in beta), audio ads can be a fresh way to sidestep the frustrating results you’ll often see with video ads.
  • Reddit Conversation Placement ads: You know how you’ll sometimes Google for product reviews, then add ‘reddit’ to the end to find lots of opinions from real people? Reddit Conversation Placement ads let you show ad placements on individual posts, which means you can target the ones that rank for your conversion-related keywords.
  • Microsoft Advertising: Don’t underestimate Microsoft’s reach. Its ads now reach 1B people worldwide, and costs per click (CPCs) on Bing are consistently lower than Google. Plus, they’ve introduced new multi-media ad formats. If you want something non-traditional with lots of upside, look to Microsoft.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

APPLE: Move over cost per mille (CPM) and make room for cost per tap (CPT). Apple ads are moving to their version of cost per click (CPC), which divides ad spend with the number of users that tap on your app. Simple math.

INSTAGRAM: More than twice as long? A user noticed that Instagram apparently increased the name character limit from 30 to 64. That’s longer than the world’s longest word, according to Google.

INSTAGRAM: Also, the social media platform added a bunch of new features like Templates and interactive Stickers to Reels. Time to increase that engagement rate…

E-COMMERCE: Amazon and Walmart have a fierce competitor in India. Literally. The country is harnessing the financial power of banks and “other key players” to establish their own online commerce network and squeeze out the big two from the market.

You can now segment your Analytics audience by activity

… or lack thereof.

Why? Because Google just launched dynamic lookbacks in Analytics audiences.

What it means: When building an audience, you can use event values triggered within the last 60 days to dynamically include or exclude users.

For example, you could create an audience of users who purchased a product within the last week.

Or exclude users that were inactive for more than a month.

Why we care: Lookbacks give you more opportunities to analyze data and adjust bids based on the activity or inactivity of your users.

They can also give you a glimpse at segments of your audience that haven’t engaged in a while.

Useful insights, for sure.

Snap is targeting potential travelers, Pinterest is heading to Japan…

Lots of people are booking flights and packing bags.

And so are ad platforms, apparently…

Snap’s Dynamic Travel Ads have liftoff: Their new ad format could help advertisers drive conversions for hotels, airlines, travel apps and more.

Snap says you can optimize campaigns based on user travel intent and local relevance. Etihad Airways did, and according to Snap, they decreased cost per flight search by 4 times. Not bad.

Pinterest landed in Japan: The social media app just made their ad service available in the country, and they also expanded their Shopify partnership.

These updates should make it easier for Japanese merchants to sync the two platforms and turn products into product pins.

Oh, and Google has an itinerary, too: Starting June 30, you won’t be able to create and edit expanding text ads. You can prepare for the switch by having at least one responsive search ad in every ad group.

Why we care: With so many ad platforms dropping useful updates, it’s good to stay on top of them so you can more effectively leverage your marketing channels.

And speaking of marketing channels…

A simple action plan for coming up with better video ads

Your creatives are among the biggest levers in your campaigns, so it’s essential to have a process for creating quality ones.

And if you don’t have a process yet, this post shared by Foxwell Digital can help you create one.

Shall we?

1) Find creators that fit your demographic. There are different ways to do this:

  • Study the competition.
  • Ask your customers if they’re willing to create content in exchange for products or money.
  • Use agencies or platforms that provide user-generated content (UGC).

Keep in mind that you’ll need multiple creators, likely with different looks, demographics, personas, etc. Otherwise, your ads will eventually get creative fatigue and it will be hard to scale.

2) Once you have a list of creators, fill out a creative brief. This includes key talking points, guidelines like where and how to record videos, brand guidelines, video length, assets needed, and editing guidelines.

3) Create a storyboard to draft the content. Use a format like this one:

  • Address the problem. You have different options here: you can start with a mashup of problems, have a testimonial describing the problem, or give the top 3 problem pain points.
  • Describe (or show) the pains and emotions that the problem creates.
  • Present the solution.
  • Call to action (CTA).

Other options you can include in the storyboard:

  • UGC type. Unboxing, “TikTok made me buy,” website or ordering process, X number of reasons why to buy X, the best thing about X, problem → solution, meet this product, and “I wish I knew about X sooner.”
  • Content layout. Chronological, reverse-chronological, problem → solution, aesthetically pleasing, etc.
  • Whether you need different hooks, lengths, or other iterations.
  • Intro content, or the hook.
  • Outro content like CTA, animation, graphic screen, etc.

A helpful process outline, no? And if you want to go deeper, the post shares more about the editing process, plus other conditions to define with the creator like additional costs, how long you can run the creatives, and more.

How to reduce meetings and reclaim your time

“Are you free to hop on a quick Zoom?”

If you had a nickel for every time, you heard that question, you’d be spending your days in a beachfront villa without having to think about marketing ever again.

Let’s be honest: Many meetings can be a waste of time. We produce an in-depth newsletter each weekday, monthly Deep Dives, and much more… And we only meet twice per year.

Here’s our best advice for having fewer meetings—and saving more time:

  • Before you schedule a meeting, have it in writing. Try discussing your topic with a quick email or Slack message. This way, each party can respond when it’s convenient for them, saving you both hours in the process.
  • Create detailed process documentation so people can easily reference how you do things. The more detailed your internal process documentation is, the fewer times you’ll need to meet to “align on a project” or “nail some things down.”
  • Practice your writing. A big reason people meet too often is that they aren’t comfortable writing. But this can change! Instead of relying on meetings, practice your written communication skills. This pays off in many ways.

Our opinion? Try your best to avoid meetings unless they’re absolutely necessary. We think you’ll enjoy the results.

Ever heard of webtoons?

As part of the exploding k-phenomenon, Webtoons are the latest cultural export from South Korea. Webtoons are a form of digital comic that can easily be read on your average smartphone. The medium’s leading platform, Naver, boasts 82 million users with a reach extending well beyond Korea. As is the case with any new form of digital entertainment, brands are keen to get on board.

Global popularity of webtoons

Webtoons aren’t just a medium that works in South Korea, the popularity is becoming truly global. Malaysia and Vietnam had the highest levels of popularity, with 57.3% and 53.8% of respondents expressing interest in the medium in 2021. Beyond Asia, the UAE recorded 49.8% of respondents while the USA and Australia had 41% of positive responses. The point is, the audience is global.

Popularity of South Korean webtoons in selected countries 2021

TikTok VS Twitch

Live video app TikTok is launching a subscription service for its TikTok Live product. Subscribers will have access to exclusive content and perks for a monthly fee. Still in its beta stage, the model is very similar to the one offered by Twitch. The move is part of a larger focus by TikTok on live streaming and gaming content, an area currently dominated by Twitch. With one billion active monthly users, TikTok is in a strong position to challenge this dominance.

Crypto advertising crash

Remember earlier in the year when the top crypto firms like Coinbase and FTX spent close to US$71 million on Super Bowl advertising? This could be a thing of the past as the cryptocurrency ad spend plummets alongside its market value. With the price of NFTs crashing too, it’s unclear whether the spend will ever rise again, even after recovery. If investors are generally spooked, it’s going to take more than Matt Damon to convince them crypto is a sure bet.

Interesting Marketing Video and Report

Simple, but colourful, motion graphics coupled with text easily explain how server systems can scale memory (just watch, it will make sense).

Stop motion animation and puppetry retell the story of the USSR and USA space race (with some artistic licence taken).

Outsource your out of office email response to Icelandic horses.

Targeting “workday consumers” and easing on crypto

Microsoft Advertising seems poised to take over the world.

Targeting “workday consumers” and easing on crypto

The tech giant announced they’re expanding their ads services to Japan to reach more “workday consumers.”

Shopping on the job: According to research, 61% of Japanese consumers spend their work hours researching products and making purchases.

The Japanese market is especially interesting for Microsoft advertisers since there’s a high adoption of Windows OS, Edge browser, and Bing search engine.

… Meanwhile, across the Pacific: Microsoft announced they’re loosening up their cryptocurrency exchange advertising policy in the US.

From now on, advertising crypto exchanges will be available on Microsoft Advertising Search Network only, and only for pre-approved exchanges.

Why we care: Since the start of the year Microsoft has been making serious moves in the advertising space.

That’s good news for advertisers who want to target new markets… And speaking of targeting…

Product targeting is going off platform

We have mixed feelings about this one.

What’s going on: On June 15, Amazon will start placing your product targeting ad campaigns on “contextually relevant third-party websites and apps.”

Basically that means Amazon will show your ads both on and off their platform… and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Why we care: Amazon says the update will “help you further build your brand” by driving traffic from external sources.

That sounds like a good opportunity…

It also sounds like it would negate the point of product targeting ads—namely, to position your products with those of your competitors’.

Still too early to tell if this is a “good” or “not so good” move on Amazon’s part…

Should you add “near me” to your brand name?

During their Q1 earnings calls, Google revealed that Maps searches for [shopping near me] were up 100% globally year-over-year.

And if you work in local SEO, you’re probably aware that “near me” search optimization has huge potential for many businesses.

… So much potential, that some companies went to extremes and added “near me” to their business name.

Yes, there’s literally a company named Locksmith Near Me Miami… And that’s just one example.

Moreover, in March, Google declared that searches for “open now near me” have grown globally by over 400% YoY.

So, should you add “open now” to your business name as well?

According to Chris Silver Smith, that tactic jumps the shark.

He explains in a Search Engine Land post that when a user searches for “business X near me,” Google returns the closest matching local businesses for the search terms within the Maps / Local listings.

Essentially, it extracts the “near me” portion of the query, and matches the search with a business that is actually near based on the location data.

Businesses with “near me” in their name will still show up in the search, but ranking will depend on the proximity to the searcher.

So, the bottom line? There’s no advantage in changing your name.

Optimizing for “near me” won’t move the needle when it comes to search.

In fact, Google may consider the practice keyword stuffing, which can hurt your rankings. And on top of that, it’s not good for word-of-mouth or repeat business.

So, yes, optimize for search. Just don’t “optimize” your brand or company name!

Want more sales? Sell paid memberships

If you want your customers to spend more, ask them to pay more in the form of a premium membership.

Seriously.

It sounds weird, but here’s how it works: The Ariyh newsletter wrote about a study in which a brand introduced a $50-per-year subscription to its members.

The results? People spent 225% more—an additional $27 per month, on average—when they were subscribed.

And two-thirds of that increase was attributed to psychological factors, not actual subscription benefits.

The Crew’s take: When people pay for something, they often feel obligated to use it.

So as soon as someone buys your brand’s paid membership, your brand is immediately elevated above the rest in their minds.

And when that person wants to buy something in your niche, you’re the first place they go to.

This won’t work for every brand, but it’s absolutely worth testing.

ROUNDING UP THE STACK

ADVERTISING: It’s been more than a year since Apple released its App Tracking Transparency (ATT) policy… and mobile fingerprinting is still in full swing. It’s “unpoliced,” so companies use it to track downloads. Seems like the fingers will keep on tapping—unless governments step in.

MARKETING: Agile marketing has been a pillar of the industry for years. But is the age of sprints, daily standups, and kanban boards a thing of the past? Might be… Only 41% of marketers still follow these practices.

PODCASTS: A favorite podcast genre? Static and white noise. Yep, you read that right. Atmospheric, soothing sounds are taking over the podcast scene—and creators are making bank. Seems like a good potential ad channel… as long as you can respect the vibe.

PAYMENTS: The buy now, pay later (BNPL) space is getting a big boost. Stripe is partnering with Affirm, the official BNPL provider for Amazon, making it easy for millions of companies to use the option. Nice.

GOOGLE: No more editing or adding products on Google Business Profile… It’s all Merchant Center (MC) now. Oh, since the Products feature is now synced with MC, make sure you connect MC with your store and give your products free visibility on Google.

APPLE: Siri, are the rumors true? There are whispers that Apple is ready to announce their own search engine. Guess it makes sense… So many users buy MacBooks and iMacs only to use Google products, anyway.

GOOGLE: If you’re selling electric bikes, pay attention to how you list your products on your landing page, or based on this new policy, Google could reject your products.

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